Sitting on a shelf gathering dust
Food storage is a good example of the divide between liberal and conservative schools of thought. Not all LDS believe in keeping a three months’ supply of food, of course. While it’s been discussed as recently as 2007, I think food storage was always a “soft” commandment. Like journaling and genealogy, some LDS keep a three month supply and some don’t.
A person can be considered a faithful LDS and not have shelves full of canned goods and drinking water. It’s not part of the temple recommend interview (that I know of).
For the more conservative, the thought is that you take care of yourself first. And food storage makes sense with that – the idea is that you are preparing for a disastrous event. When I remember hearing about this growing up, it was really an “end of days” thing. We never knew when we were going to have to build handcarts to walk to Missouri.
And with various hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and volcanoes, it does make sense to be reasonably prepared. Having three months of wheat may not be helpful in a natural disaster, but canned tuna might.
From a different perspective, it is a difficult time of year to walk past shelves and shelves of canned food for one person or family. People are hungry throughout the year, but awareness is heightened during the winter. My evidence is anecdotal, but many food banks have been stressed to serve everyone in need. And people have been suffering (particularly here in the U.S.) for the past couple of years.
As an aside, I have read an unsubstantiated rumor that some missionaries have been getting their food from non LDS food banks. Honestly, the rumor doesn’t surprise me, if it is true. If U.S. missionaries do receive a $4 food stipend per day (a number I’ve heard quoted in the past), I challenge all MSP readers to try and live on that without using resources like food banks. While it’s true that missionaries may be able to have some meals in members’ homes, even with making all one’s food from scratch; $4 per day ($28 per week) is simply not a lot. Certainly not for extras like fruits and vegetables. It may be the case that missionaries get food from the bishop’s pantry. I don’t know, and things may have changed in the past few years.
So it’s difficult to have this conversation because of the opposing views. One side wants to encourage self-reliance. The other wants to prevent waste. It might leave a person with a conundrum.
If a person has an extra dollar to spend, should they spend it on canned food storage for themselves to sit on a shelf or donate that dollar (or food) to people who could use it right now? I would suggest, if one really needs to purchase the extra canned food to prepare for the worst, to donate one can for every saved can.
I can’t help but see it as wasteful to allow food to sit on shelves. Food that might go bad some day – and never be used? Some people may get into extensive food rotating schemes. I can’t say.
It’s simply hard for me to understand this particular policy. Some preparation makes sense. But I think that this is one case where people could go overboard. And one example of disagreement among faithful LDS members.