Marion County Food Share employee Mitch Baysinger unloads a palette of beef chunks from a truck carrying more then $40,000 worth of donation food from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Marion Polk Food Share (MPFS) is used to getting food donations from the community, they don’t typically arrive by the truckload.
However, on Tuesday, March 31, the Keizer Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made it happen. The effort also involved the Salem and Monmouth Stakes of the church and a surplus of food from the Salt Lake City headquarters of the global faith.
“This is a very large community donation,” said Rick Guapo, executive director of MPFS. “When you’re talking about non-industry partners, you’re usually talking in barrels, not truckloads. And it couldn’t arrive at a better time.”
Keizer City Councilor Dan Kohler was one of the spearheads in the effort to bring the food to Marion County. He also serves as public affairs director for the Keizer Stake of the church.
“The local congregations (throughout the nation) have donated each month for years towards church-wide welfare needs. The surplus reserves are from there and donations that went above and beyond tithing,” Kohler said.
Food storage is a guiding principle for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s part of making individual families and the church as a whole self-sufficient. Over the years, food storage and processing – in the from of pasta-making and canneries – have been added to the church’s efforts and grown the supply on hand.
Neil Nelson, president of the Keizer Stake, said previous efforts to disburse surplus foods traditionally went to crisis areas around the globe. This year, for the first time, the church is sending out donations to 47 states within the U.S. as a matter of course.
“Oregon is getting 13 semis full of food in the coming weeks,” Nelson said.
Neil Nelson, president of the Keizer Stake of the Church ofJesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, watches as food is unloaded.
The food contained in the delivery to MPFS is worth about $40,000 alone. The church is providing the food and delivery at no cost to the organizations receiving it. Beef stew, chili, beans of all kinds, tomato sauce, pasta and canned fruits are just some of what the shipment contained.
Kohler said it was hard not to see some sort of divine intervention in the food arriving at a time of crisis as the nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The church has always been involved in helping the poor and needy. It would not be a long shot to say the Prophet was inspired to prepare for this,” Kohler said. The Prophet Kohler references is the global president of the church, Russell Nelson.
Kohler said it was humbling to play even a small part in preparing the community for hard times.
“To see what the Church is doing to help so very many during such a trying time, it is testimony strengthening to see the foresight and willingness to share without asking for anything in return,” Kohler said. “Serving on the city council, I see people donate lots of things and provide many acts of love and kindness, which is awesome. When I compare all I see with what I see what the Church is doing on such a grand scale, again I’m very humbled to be a small part of such a giant gift to so many.”
Driver Mike Braegger who delivered the food from Salt Lake City to Marion County.