After visiting the Church's Humanitarian Center and Welfare Square July 16, the head of the world's largest food aid organization lauded the Church for its humanitarian outreach.
James Morris, executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, called the Church's commitment to its own members and the larger community "people who are poor and hungry and at risk and vulnerable regardless of what their faith is" remarkable.
The world has the ability to alleviate hunger, he said. "If everyone was doing as much as the Mormon Church is doing the problem would be solved quickly."
Speaking at the conclusion of a whirlwind trip to Salt Lake City, Mr. Morris said he came to thank Church leaders for a $1 million donation to the World Food Program, earmarked for famine relief in Africa, two years ago.
"I had not said thank you in person," said Mr. Morris. "It was a very important gift at a time when we desperately needed it."
He added that he was also aware of the Church's huge humanitarian contributions worldwide. "I wanted to see the operation and learn more about it," he said.
Hosted by Harold C. Brown, an Area Authority Seventy and managing director of Welfare Services, and Garry Flake, director of Church Emergency Response, Mr. Morris toured Welfare Square, the Church's Humanitarian Center and Temple Square during a five-hour visit. Welfare Square includes a 178-foot tall grain elevator, a storehouse, bakery, cannery, a milk processing operation, a thrift store and an employment center; the Humanitarian Center is where shipments of clothing, blankets, medical supplies and educational materials are assembled for the needy throughout the world.
"The Church has this strong commitment to be wherever someone is struggling and we share that," Mr. Morris said.
The World Food Program, the largest agency of the United Nations, was formed in 1963. Last year it provided food for 104 million hungry people in 81 countries. "Our objective is to feed the most vulnerable, the hungriest and the poorest," said Jordan Dey, WFP spokesman who accompanied Mr. Morris to Salt Lake City.
Funded mainly from government donations, the WFP has been involved in recent high profile efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa.
Mr. Morris noted that there are many ways the Church and the World Food Program can strengthen its partnership; in addition to the $1 million contribution two years ago from the Church to the WFP, the two groups have worked side-by-side over the years, providing relief to many areas.
"The Church distributes lots of food, medical supplies, books and clothing to places where we work and we distribute food to places where the Church has food storehouses," he said.
Brother Flake said the Church has a great appreciation for the World Food Program and the work the organization does globally. "For them to identify the Church as a partner in this effort is a great compliment."
Mr. Morris also lauded the Church, praising the fast offering program as an "extraordinary, generous way of fighting world hunger every single month."
"This is an approach the world could learn a lot from," he said. "I don't know what people spend on two meals, but we can feed a school child for a full year on $35."
Of all the things Mr. Morris will remember from his visit to the Latter-day Saint sites, he said, it will be the many people "living out, day after day, their faith and commitment."
"It is one thing to talk about your beliefs and spiritual commitments. . . . This is a place that realizes, actualizes it and lives it day in and day out. You see volunteers of all ages here doing good things to help people all over the world who desperately need it."
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