Facebook Twitter

Mormon canneries preserve the spirit of self-reliance

SHARE Mormon canneries preserve the spirit of self-reliance

When it comes to having sacred experiences, one probably wouldn't think of a

cannery in Kent.

But for about a dozen Mormon church members on a recent day, stirring

steaming vats of salsa and wiping sauce from pint-size Mason jars were ways of

expressing their faith — not to mention a means of preparing for a


Above the grinding noise of the machines, the church members — hair tucked

into hair nets, work gloves snapped neatly into place — chatted about their

families while putting salsa-filled jars on a slow-moving conveyor belt.

"I love going to the cannery because there's a great feeling of camaraderie,"

said Kristen Jenson, 49, a homemaker and technical writer from Bothell. "It's

like a little beehive."

Later that afternoon, the canners would each take home several cases of salsa

to their families — part of an estimated 400,000 cans of corn, jars of peaches,

packages of wheat and other foods the cannery turns out each year.

In these tough economic times, layoffs, longer lines at food banks and other

signs of distress are readily apparent. What's less apparent, though also very

much a reflection of these anxious times, is what's happening here in Kent and

at dozens of other Mormon-run canneries across the country.

The canneries are busier than ever. Their use in Washington and nationwide

doubled over the last year.