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New Storehouse Brings Help Closer to Home

New Storehouse Brings Help Closer to Home

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BURLEY | There are rows of everything one would need to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

On one side of the aisle there are cans of cranberries, pumpkin pie filling, black olives and instant potatoes. Bags of cereal, granola and sugar line the opposite shelves. Refrigerated doors on one wall are filled with meat and dairy products.

The bishops' storehouse looks like a smaller version of a grocery store. There are even shopping carts. 

There's one big difference. There's no cash and no cash register.

For more than 40 years, the only bishops' storehouse in the Magic Valley was in Burley. That meant people in Twin Falls and surrounding communities had to drive more than 40 miles away to receive help. 

Now help will be a little closer to home.

A bishops' storehouse is a place where people in need can go to receive food and other necessities such as detergent and toothpaste. Owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the bishops' storehouse helps both members and non-members of the Church. They just need to bring a bishops’ order form to the storehouse to receive two weeks of food for a family.

"We give the poor the best we can produce," Johnson said. "It's important to have good food for the people."

Many of the commodities on the shelves are grown on commodity farms owned and operated by the LDS church. Johnson said the nearest farm is located in Oakley. Printed on the labels of peanut butter jars and bottles of syrup were the words: "Distributed by Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Construction on a 14,500-square-foot bishops' storehouse in Twin Falls started in September. The new storehouse is expected to be completed in June and will be just north of the Twin Falls Temple.

Over the years, orders have been filled in Burley and delivered by truck on certain days to communities such as Twin Falls and Shoshone. But orders are only filled when a bishop signs off. If someone has an emergency, it often meant traveling to Burley. The Burley storehouse serves people as far away as Sun Valley and Carey.

"It's not too convenient when it's snowing and raining," said Don Handy, who has volunteered in the Burley storehouse's warehouse for six years.

Tuesday, volunteers filled 15 walk-in orders.

Jeffrey Johnson, Declo stake president, said the Twin Falls storehouse will provide a more efficient and convenient method of food distribution.

Like the Burley facility, the storehouse in Twin Falls will also include a home storage center, where the public can buy canned or dry-packed food. Items will include apple slices, carrots, corn, flour, oats, pasta, potato flakes, rice, sugar and wheat. Items in the home storage center are sold at cost, which means the church doesn't make it a profit. The home storage store in Burley is open from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. 

The LDS Church operates 101 home storage centers in the United States and Canada. 

Lance Udy, who manages the Burley storehouse with his wife, Kris, estimated they fill about 75 to 80 orders a week. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, order numbers usually double. 

During the recession, the weekly orders were as high as the holiday numbers. Today, fewer people are seeking help. 

"It tells me that the economy is good in our area," Udy said.

However, there is still need in the Magic Valley. Many who seek help are single mothers and people with disabilities. 

All of the items in the storehouse are paid for using fast offerings and other donations by Church members. Each month, members are expected to fast for two consecutive meals and make a donation based on the value of the missed meals. Bishops’ storehouses are operated mostly by volunteers and managed by missionaries like the Udys. Of the 136 LDS storehouses, only five have a paid manager.

And it's not just about food. Items such as diapers, baby food, toilet paper and cleaning supplies also line the shelves. 

"It's part of quality of life," Johnson said. "Look at that diaper. For a father with a young child, that diaper is just as important as a cup of sugar."

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