Nearly 15 million Americans participated in FEMA’s National PrepareAthon Day on Tuesday. But a group of 15 million others has been quietly preparing for over a century: Mormons.
Where could you stash a year’s supply of canned potato flakes?
According to Walter Jarvis, Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in north Florida, there are lots of places.
"You can put them under your bed or in the bottom of the closet up under your clothes. Keep them out of sight and out of mind. And you'll have them if you have it if you need them," he said
Part of being a Mormon means being self-reliant, especially when it comes to food, according to Jarvis.
"There’ll be a time that money may not be worth the dirt that you could cover it with," he said. "We have no idea what’s going to happen to money. But food? You gotta have food."
The church encourages members to keep a one-year supply of food stored in their houses - two-years if possible. How? By stocking up on basic staples, buying a little at a time, in cans that can last for 30 years. These cans are sold at LDS Church Home Storage Centers.
There are 89 of these dry goods centers throughout the United States, and all are open to the public. The supplies come from 12 Mormon canning and prepping centers in western states.
It’s all part of a worldwide network the LDS Church has created to be self-sufficient. In Florida that network includes more than 670,000 acres of timber and ranch land, making the church the largest private landowner in the Sunshine State.
Mormons set the foundation for the modern prepping movement, said Pat Henry, editor of the preparedness-community website ThePrepperJournal.com.
"They were the original preppers," he said. "A year is an amazing amount of food. If you can get up to that level, that’s no small feat."
To get there, Jarvis said, you need to put first things first.
"I was guilty in my younger days of thinking that I needed all the pretty little things in life," he said. "And I learned quickly as I was raising children that I didn't. Change your priorities. And take care of your family first."
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