Quotes on Emergency Preparedness


In a recent “USA Today” article, the Church and its members were praised for their longtime emphasis on emergency preparedness and food storage. The national newspaper takes note of helpful resources such as a food calculator found on the new Web site, www.providentliving.org, and ward food storage and emergency preparedness specialists. The newspaper says, “These guys wrote the book” on food storage and emergency preparedness. — LDS News Update, Internet, February 28, 2003

The time will come that gold will hold no comparison in value to a bushel of wheat. … What use is gold when you get enough to eat, drink, and wear without it? (1:250)

There is no happiness in gold, not the least.  It is very convenient as an article of exchange, in purchasing what we need; and instead of finding comfort and happiness in gold, you exchange it to obtain happiness, or that which may conduce to it.  There is no real wealth in gold.  People talk about being wealthy – about being rich; but place the richest banking company in the world upon barren rock, with their gold piled around them, with no possible chance of exchanging it, and destitute of the creature comforts, and they would be poor indeed.  Where then is their joy, their comfort, their great wealth?  They have none.  (8:168) –– Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses

Do not forget, my brethren and sisters, the teachings you have heard, and which have been repeated in your hearing for so many years; I refer to the saving and storing of grain; for the day will come when you will see the wisdom of doing so, and when many of you will doubtless wish you had profited by it.  For I tell you that wars and desolation will cover the land, just as prophets have declared they would; and these are coming as plainly and as surely as the light comes in the morning, before the sun rises above the summit of yonder mountains, and before we see his rays.  So with the signs of the times at the present.  We have only to read the newspapers, and look abroad and see confusion, and see difficulties, war, and pestilence foreshadowing themselves over the land, and these things will come to pass as sure as the Lord has spoken it, and as sure as his servants have testified to these words.  — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 25, pp. 258-59; July 21, 1878

There is another word of the Lord unto me, and which has been like fire shut up in my bosom for the last three months; that is, to call upon all the inhabitants of these mountains as far as I have an opportunity, to go to and lay up their grain, that they may have bread.  For the last three months I have not felt as if I could answer my own feelings, unless, at every meeting I have attended, I called upon the farmers to lay up their grain.  “Oh, yes,” say some, “Heber C. Kimball cried “famine, famine” for years and it has not come yet.”  Well, bless your soul there is more room for it to come.  “Who am I, saith the Lord, that I promise and do not fulfill?”  The day will come when if this people do not lay up their bread they will be sorry for it.  The Lord has felt after us in days past and gone by the visitations of crickets and grasshoppers time after time, and had it not been for His mercy we should have had famine upon our hands long before this.  It is the duty of the farmers in these mountains not to sell their grain, or to throw it away for a song, but to lay it up, or you will find that the day is not a great way off when you will need it.  That is the voice of the Lord to me, and it is the way I have felt for a good while, and I believe it is the same to my brethren.  — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 18:127

‘Provident living’. . . implies the [conserving] of our resources, the wise planning of financial matters, full provision for personal health, and adequate preparation for education and career development, giving appropriate attention to home production and storage as well as the development of emotional resiliency. . . . If we live wisely and providently, we will be as safe as in the palm of His hand— President Spencer W. Kimball, “Welfare Services: The Gospel in Action,” Ensign, November 1977, p. 78; Visiting Teaching Message, Ensign, February 2010, p. 7

But there is another even more important preparation we must make for tests that are certain to come to each of us.  That preparation must be started far in advance because it takes time.  What we will need then can’t be bought.  It can’t be borrowed.  It doesn’t store well.  And it has to have been used regularly and recently. 

What we will need in our day of testing is a spiritual preparation.  It is to have developed faith in Jesus Christ so powerful that we can pass the test of life upon which everything for us in eternity depends.

…So, the great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage. 

…However much faith to obey God we now have, we will need to strengthen it continually and keep it refreshed constantly.  We can do that by deciding now to be more quick to obey and more determined to endure.  Learning to start early and to be steady are the keys to spiritual preparation.  Procrastination and inconsistency are its mortal enemies. President Henry B. Eyring,“Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady,” Ensign, November 2005, p. 37

I know of nothing of great importance that has happened in the world that the Lord through his prophets has not advised the people of beforehand, so that they have not been left in ignorance of what was to develop, but could plan their lives, if they would, to their advantage. . . .

The case of Noah is in point. He was commanded of the Lord to build an ark in which the righteous might be preserved from the flood which was to come.  Noah built the ark and preached repentance to his generation for a period of one hundred and twenty years, thus fully warning them. The people, however, were so wicked that they failed to heed the warning.  Having their agency, they chose evil rather than righteousness.  The rains descended, and the floods came, and only Noah and his family of eight souls were saved.  All had been fully warned, but because of their wilfulness and their refusal to repent they were drowned. [See Moses 8:13–30.] (In Conference Report, Apr. 1945, 136) Teachings of Presidents of the Church, George Albert Smith, p. 60

The Church has not told you what foods should be stored.  This decision is left up to individual members. …Other basics could include honey or sugar, legumes, milk products or substitutes, and salt or its equivalent.  — President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, November 1980, p. 33 

You do not need to go into debt . . . to obtain a year’s supply.  Plan to build up your food supply just as you would a savings account.  Save a little for storage each pay-check.  Can or bottle fruit and vegetables from your gardens and orchards.  Learn how to preserve food through drying and possibly freezing.  Make your storage a part of your budget.  Store seeds and have sufficient tools on hand to do the job.  If you are saving and planning for a second car or a TV set or some item which merely add to your comfort or pleasure, you may need to change your priorities.  We urge you to do this prayerfully and do it now.

I speak with a feeling of great urgency.  I have seen what the days of tribulation can do to people.  — President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, November 1980, p. 33

The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah. — President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, November 1980, p. 33

We could refer to all the components of personal and family preparedness, not in relation to holocaust or disaster, but in cultivating a lifestyle that is on a day-to-day basis its own reward. — President Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, November 1977, p. 78

Family preparedness has always been an essential welfare principle in perfecting the Saints.  Are each of us and our families following, where permitted, the long-standing counsel to have sufficient food, clothing, and, where possible, fuel on hand to last at least one year? — President Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference, April 1988

Brethren and sisters, we’ve gathered here this morning to consider the important program which we must never forget nor put in the background.  As we become more affluent and our bank accounts enlarge, there comes a feeling of security, and we feel sometimes that we do not need the supply that has been suggested by the Brethren.  It lies there and deteriorates, we say.  And suppose it does?  We can reestablish it.  We must remember that conditions could change and a year’s supply of basic commodities could be very much appreciated by us or others.  So we would do well to listen to what we have been told and to follow it explicitly. . . .

There are some countries which prohibit savings or surpluses. We do not understand it, but it is true.  And we honor, obey, and sustain the laws of the country which is ours. (See A of F 1:12.)  Where it is permitted, though, which is most of the world, we should listen to the counsel of the Brethren and to the Lord.

Recognizing that the family is the basic unit of both the Church and society generally, we call upon Latter-day Saints everywhere to strengthen and beautify the home with renewed effort in these specific areas: food production, preservation, storage; the production and storage of nonfood items; fixup and cleanup of homes and surroundings. We wish to say another word about this in the next meeting.

We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees – plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard.  Even those residing in apartments or condominiums can generally grow a little food in pots and planters.  Study the best methods of providing your own foods.  Make your garden as neat and attractive as well as productive.  If there are children in your home, involve them in the process with assigned responsibilities.

What President Romney has just said is basic. Children should learn to work. Parents should not spend their nights and days trying to find something to interest their children.  They should find something to occupy them and get them busy doing something that is worthwhile.

Develop your skills in your home preservation and storage.  We reaffirm the previous counsel the Church has always given, to acquire and maintain a year’s supply – a year’s supply of the basic commodities for us.  And Brother Featherstone has pretty well outlined those commodities for us.

Wherever possible, produce your nonfood necessities of life.  Improve your sewing skills; sew and mend clothing for your family.  All the girls want to learn to type, they all want to go to an office.  They don’t seem to want to sew anymore, and to plant and protect and renew the things that they use.  Develop handicraft skills as the sisters have told us, and make or build needed items.

We encourage families to have on hand this year’s supply; and we say it over and over and over and repeat over and over the scripture of the Lord where He says, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”  How empty it is as they put their spirituality, so-called, into action and call him by his important names, but fail to do the things which he says. — President Spencer W. Kimball, “Family Preparedness,” General Conference, May 1976

Avoid debt. We used to talk about that a great deal, but today everything is seemingly geared toward debt. “Get your cards, and buy everything on time”: you’re encouraged to do it.  But the truth is that we don’t need to do it to live. . . . We encourage all Latter-day Saint families to become self-reliant and independent.  The greatness of a people and of a nation begins in the home.  Let us dedicate ourselves to strengthening and beautifying the home in every way we can. — President Spencer W. Kimball, “Family Preparedness,” General Conference, May 1976

For twenty-six years, since I was fifteen, I was involved in the grocery industry.  I learned much about human nature during those years.  I remember the effects that strikes, earthquakes, and rumors of war had on many very active Latter-day Saints.  Like the five foolish virgins, they rushed to the store to buy food, caught in the panic of knowing that direction had been given by the prophet but not having followed that direction – fearful that maybe they had procrastinated until it was everlastingly too late.

It was interesting because only in Latter-day Saint communities did people seem to buy with abandon.  It was not a few Latter-day Saints – it was a significant number.  It caused great increases in sales.  One such experience came when a so-called prophecy by someone outside the Church was greatly publicized.

How foolish we can sometimes be!  We have a living prophet; we have God’s living oracles, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles.  Let us follow the Brethren and be constant.  We need have no fear if we are prepared. — Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, “Food Storage,” Ensign, May 1976

This morning I would like to discuss food storage.  Let me suggest three or four things we can do.  Start by taking an inventory – take a physical count of all of your reserves.  This would be a great family home evening project if you’re prepared.  If not, it may be terribly embarrassing to you in front of your family. Imagine how the powerful testimony you bear concerning a living prophet must sound to your children, who know that as a family head you have been counseled for years to have a year’s reserve of food on hand.  We need to know where we are.  Every family should take an inventory – get all the facts.

Second, decide what is needed to bring your present reserve levels to a year’s supply.  Then make a list and prepare a plan.  Consider first, what are the basics? – wheat (or grain from your locale), sugar or honey, dried milk, salt, and water.  Most of us can afford such basics.  Buy them from your monthly food budget allowance.  The Church discourages going into debt to buy for storage.

Now that you know where you are and where you need to be, the third step is to work out a time schedule for when you will reach your goal.  I suggest that one year from today we ought to have a year’s supply of food in all active – and many inactive – members’ homes in the Church.  Where food storage violates the law of your land, then abide the law.  However, even in those cases we can plant gardens and fruit trees and raise rabbits or chickens.  Do all you can within the laws of your community, and the Lord will bless you when the time of need comes. — Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, “Food Storage,” Ensign, May 1976

For the righteous the gospel provides a warning before a calamity, a program for the crises, a refuge for each disaster. . . .

The Lord has warned us of famines, but the righteous will have listened to prophets and stored at least a year’s supply of survival food. . . .

Brethren and sisters, I know that this welfare program is inspired of God.  I have witnessed with my own eyes the ravages of hunger and destitution as, under the direction of the president of the Church, I spent a year in war-torn Europe at the close of World War II, without my family, distributing food, clothing, and bedding to our needy members.  I have looked into the sunken eyes of Saints, in almost the last stages of starvation.  I have seen faithful mothers carrying their children, three and four years of age, who were unable to walk because of malnutrition.  I have seen a hungry woman turn down food for a spool of thread.  I have seen grown men weep as they ran their hands through the wheat and beans sent to them from Zion – America.

Thanks be to God for a prophet, for this inspired program, and for Saints who so managed their stewardship that they could provide for their own and still share with others. – President Ezra Taft Benson October 1973 conference address “Prepare Ye,” Ensign, January 1974, pp. 69, 81–82

The succeeding presidents of the Church have vigorously emphasized these teachings.  Here is an example from President Brigham Young’s teachings:

            “We will have to go to work and get the gold out of the mountains to lay down, if we ever walk in streets paved with gold.  The angels that now walk in their golden streets . . . had to obtain that gold and put it there.  When we have streets paved with gold, we will have placed it there ourselves.  When we enjoy a Zion in its beauty and glory [which we’re looking forward to], it will be when we have built it. If we enjoy the Zion that we now anticipate, it will be after we redeem and prepare it.  If we live in the city of the New Jerusalem, it will be because we lay the foundation and build it. . . . If we are to be saved in an ark, as Noah and his family were, it will be because we build it. . . .

            “My faith does not lead me,” President Young continued, “to think the Lord will provide us with roast pigs, bread already buttered, etc.; he will give us the ability to raise the grain, to obtain the fruits of the earth, to make habitations, to procure a few boards to make a box, and when harvest comes, giving us the grain, it is for us to preserve it – to save the wheat until we have one, two, five, or seven years’ provisions on hand, until there is enough of the staff of life saved by the people to bread themselves and those who will come here seeking for safety. . . .  [The fulfillment of that prophecy is yet in the future.]

            “Ye Latter-day Saints, learn to sustain yourselves. . . .

            “Implied faith and confidence in God is for you and me to do everything we can to sustain and preserve ourselves. . . .

            “You have learned a good deal, it is true; but learn more; learn to sustain yourselves; lay up grain and flour, and save it against a day of scarcity. . . .

            “Instead of searching after what the Lord is going to do for us, let us inquire what we can do for ourselves.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, Deseret Book, 1966 ed., pp. 291–93) — President Marion G. Romney, “Church Welfare Services’ Basic Principles,” Ensign, May 1976

We need to address ourselves constantly to the following question: What is the responsibility of the individual, the family, and the Church in seeing to the needs of our people?  There is much evidence that there are those who still do not understand or at least do not take seriously the counsel that has been given for many years.  It appears that some have the notion that the Church will care for them regardless of what they have done for themselves.

We simply must recognize that the foundation of the Welfare Services program of the Church rests on the degree of preparedness of the individual and family to take care of themselves.  If our people could but understand that these teachings come because the Lord loves them and in his infinite wisdom desires that his people be blessed particularly in troublesome times.  As has often been quoted, however, this “must needs be done in mine own way.”  (D&C 104:16)

We look to you stake presidents, bishops, and Relief Society presidents to teach the people the basic principles of self-reliance and independence.  It is of critical importance that the members of the Church be converted to this principle.  If the Church as a whole would practice these teachings, we would have no need to fear regardless of problems that will undoubtedly arise.

The Lord has said: “For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you. . . .

            “Behold, this is the preparation wherewith I prepare you, and the foundation, and the ensample which I give unto you, whereby you may accomplish the commandments which are given you;

            “That through my providence, notwithstanding the tribulation which shall descend upon you, that the church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world.” (D&C 78:7, 13–14.)

            And he further said, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” (D&C 38:30) — Presiding Bishop Victor L. Brown, “Church and Family Welfare,” Ensign, May 1976

I do not want to be a calamity howler.  I don’t know in detail what’s going to happen in the future.  I know what the prophets have predicted.  But I tell you that the welfare program, organized to enable us to take care of our own needs, has not yet performed the function that it was set up to perform.  We will see the day when we live on what we produce.”  — President Marion G. Romney, Conference Reports, April 1975, p. 165

We have had many calamities in this past period.  It seems that every day or two there is an earthquake or a flood or a tornado or distress that brings trouble to many people.  I am grateful to see that our people and our leaders are beginning to catch the vision of their self-help. . . .

Now I think the time is coming when there will be more distresses, when there may be more tornadoes, and more floods, . . . more earthquakes. . . . I think they will be increasing probably as we come nearer to the end, and so we must be prepared for this. – President Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Reports, April 1974, pp. 183–84