If your family lost its income tomorrow, how long could you survive? For many families, the answer is limited to a few weeks at best. For a Mormon, the answer might be in terms of months or even a year. Mormon is a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Mormon teaching to store food and other supplies is not a doomsday prepper commandment. Most Mormons anticipate using the things they store for more ordinary events, such as unemployment or illness. Some less common events, such as a flood or hurricane, might also bring about a need for stored food and water. This focus informs the way Mormons prepare for emergencies.
Mormons are encouraged to create a long-term storage of items that would sustain life in an emergency, such as flour, sugar, and water. Many basics, such as flour and rice, will keep for more than thirty years.Then, when they have the very basic essentials completed, they can begin building a longer-term and more interesting food storage. For this longer storage, many Mormons simply build up what they normally eat. By having a good supply stored away, they only have to buy on sale or in bulk, which cuts their costs and allows them to live less expensively.
This is important because Mormons are also taught to avoid debt and to live within their means. By keeping costs low, they can afford a few more luxuries or a little more storage. Living within your means is not a popular concept today, but it provides a powerful safety net in difficult times. When the budget is tight, it is much easier to live when there are no credit card bills and the home is modest. Mormons choose their expenditures wisely. This does not mean they live like pioneers, but they do keep in their minds what they can afford and what they really need.
To begin their food and supply storage, Mormons simply buy a few extra things each week. If they come into some extra money, they often use it to stock up a bit. They rotate what they buy so they will use the oldest food first and they don’t stock more than they can use before the expiration dates. They store water because in some nature emergencies, water is unavailable for several weeks.
Mormons also build a reasonable savings account for times of unemployment or unexpected expenses. This helps them avoid debt and allows them to take care of themselves when they are faced with unemployment.
Many Mormons also garden as a way to create a living food storage. The skills for storing food, gardening, budgeting, and preparing are taught in church classes. You can learn how to do this at no cost and without registering by going to Family Well-Being.
An important part of self-reliance is to be prepared to have a good career. Mormons are taught to get good educations, both formally and informally, and to develop the skills they need to obtain good employment. Many skills learned from church service, including public speaking, leadership, and organization, translate into job skills. The church runs a free literacy program for Mormons and non-Mormons both to help people learn to read well.
From time to time, a family is faced with a temporary trial that leaves them unable to provide for themselves, such as unemployment that runs a few months longer than the food storage. Each month, Mormons fast for twenty-four hours—a complete fast of no food or drink of any kind over two meals—and donate the money to a special fund called a fast offering. The bishop uses these funds to provide families with temporary food and shelter assistance. In exchange, members provide some volunteer service as their share of the payment. Participating in this way makes it easier for these families, so used to caring for themselves, to feel a sense of self-reliance. Although their volunteer service won’t cover the cost of the materials provided (no cash is given) they feel pride in knowing they did something for what they got.
Mormon self-reliance is an intelligent, balanced approach to making sure its members survive in challenging times.