From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Author: Haws, T. Glenn
Welfare Square in Salt Lake City is the largest and most complete facility in the Church Welfare system. It produces and delivers food and clothing and provides other services to needy people in the Salt Lake area. It also supplies and coordinates Welfare efforts of the Church in other areas.
The first structures built on Welfare Square, in 1938, were a bishop's storehouse, a root cellar (now used as a storage building), and a cannery. A milk-processing plant and a 300,000-bushel grain elevator were built in 1941. A new milk-processing plant replaced the old one in 1960, and a new cannery replaced the old one in 1963. The original Bishop's Storehouse was replaced with a larger facility in 1976. In 1981 a Deseret Industries plant and its affiliated store were built on Welfare Square, and an office building to house the Social Services Department and employment services was added in 1983. A bakery was added in 1986.
Welfare Square provides regular employment for about fifty people, and volunteer assistance to run its operations and services is provided on a regular basis by about 200 people from fifty surrounding stakes. Financial support for Welfare Square comes largely from the fast offerings of local members.
Most of the recipients of food and services at Welfare Square are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but there is also a transient service center associated with the Bishop's Storehouse that gives temporary assistance to the homeless of all faiths.
Welfare Square became functionally and symbolically important to the Church in the 1930s and 1940s. It was the flagship of the Church Welfare program initiated in the Pioneer Stake in Salt Lake City in 1932. Over the years, the pattern established at Welfare Square has been replicated in more than a hundred Bishop's Storehouse facilities. Welfare Square continues to be the central supplier and coordinator for many of these other locations.
Welfare Square stands for all the principles of Welfare advocated and practiced by the Church-industry, work, and caring for the poor and needy. A visitors center is located on Welfare Square to distribute information about the Church Welfare program and to teach the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ concerning social and religious obligations toward those in need. [See also Poverty, Attitudes Toward.] Illustrations Ezra Taft Benson and his wife, Flora (on the left), and many members of the Church give volunteer services at LDS canneries and welfare projects. The food raised and preserved is distributed to the needy through the Bishop's Storehouses and Church welfare services. In recent times, these projects have been increasingly automated and professionally staffed. T. GLENN HAWS