A jar of peanut butter may seem like a small thing, but it can make a big difference to someone who is hungry. That’s why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints runs a cannery in Houston, Texas, that produces peanut butter. And now, the recently renovated facility is capable of producing over a million jars a year.
On 23 March 2011, Church and community officials gathered to rededicate the revamped cannery. New equipment at the facility includes a peanut sorter with an infrared laser sensor, a state-of-the-art roaster and machines for wrapping, labeling and packing the jars of peanut butter.
“The true value of what this plant provides will come in the future as this much-needed peanut butter reaches the souls in need of assistance,” Church official S. Gifford Nielsen said. “Every moment of service will bring to light the true teachings of Jesus Christ and will bless each volunteer who comes to serve at the cannery.”
The facility operates through a unique community collaboration. The Church donates the use of the cannery, equipment, jars and labels. The Houston Food Bank raises the money to purchase the peanuts. The labor to operate the cannery is provided by community volunteers from local corporations, congregations and other organizations. Approximately 1,000 Texans volunteer their time every year to produce the peanut butter.
Peanut butter is an ideal pantry food because it is highly nutritious, easy to store and has a long shelf life. It’s also the perfect food for children, who make up approximately 47 percent of those requiring assistance each year. Peanut butter from the plant is donated to 300 organizations in Texas, including the Houston Food Bank.
“Peanut butter is our most requested item,” said Brian Greene, president and CEO of the Houston Food Bank. “It’s nutritious, requires no refrigeration, and can even be eaten right out of the jar. We are grateful to the Latter-day Saints and the many volunteers who supply us with this important source of protein.”
In addition, the food is used for emergency response, such as when thousands of boxes were shipped to the areas affected by Hurricanes Ike, Rita and Katrina.
The Houston peanut butter plant is one of numerous food production centers the Church operates in the United States and Canada. Such facilities are part of the worldwide Mormon welfare system, which helps care for the needy of all faiths while helping people become more self-reliant. These services are financially supported through voluntary contributions.