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Long PBS piece calls Mormon welfare system huge, impressive

Emmy Award-winning TV reporter Lucky Severson characterized the LDS Church's welfare system as huge and impressive in a seven-minute report on the PBS TV show "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly."

Both the video and a transcript are available at's Religion & Ethics Newsweekly web page.

The piece included interviews with a bishop, a Relief Society president, service missionaries and leaders of various departments of the welfare system of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Much of the information will be familiar to many Mormons, including the fact that the Department of Defense, Army, Navy, Marines and FEMA have toured and studied the system.

But Severson also included a number of interesting details.

The church has 115 bishop's storehouses throughout the United States, for example. The main storehouse in Salt Lake City is a massive warehouse with more than 500,000 square feet built to withstand a 7.5-magnitude earthquake. The overall system, Severson said, "holds enough provisions to meet the projected demands of members and nonmembers in the United States and Canada for two years."

An LDS spokesperson clarified for the Deseret News that the 115 bishops storehouses in the U.S. and Canada hold enough provisions to meet the projected needs of LDS members requiring food assistance for two years.

The church also has 29 grain storage sites. The iconic silo on the west side of Salt Lake City alone holds 16 million pounds of hard red winter wheat.

The church linked to the PBS report on its "Getting It Right" blog at The blog noted that Severson correctly reported the faith's approach to helping others in need "comes from the Bible and from Mormon scripture received through revelation to its prophets."

The isn't the first time Severson, a former NBC News correspondent, has highlighted the church for "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly." In December 2013, he did a similar segment titled "Mormon Missionary Expansion" about the surge in the number of LDS missionaries after church leaders lowered the age requirements.

In Utah, "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly" runs Sunday at 6:30 a.m. on KUED.

The PBS site included a number of links to related resources about the LDS welfare system:

LDS Newsroom: Welfare and Self-Reliance

Wall Street Journal: “What the Mormons know about welfare” by Naomi Schaefer Riley, February 18, 2012

Philanthropy Roundtable: “A welfare system that works” by Naomi Schaefer Riley, Fall 2012

The Economist: “Bishop’s move,” February 14, 2002

San Francisco Chronicle: “Mormon food bank a private welfare system” by Matthai Kuruvila, March 8, 2009