Mormon church trucks in 40,000 pounds of food for IMACA

Terrance Vestal
Managing Editor

Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action on Monday received a truckload of food, which is helping to offset an almost triple-jump in demand for food that has occurred since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called Mormons, provided the food and the truck to get it here.
John Lee, the bishop for the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the truck contained 40,000 pounds of food at an approximate cost of $44,000 and feeds 1,400 people for a week.
“So that’s three meals a day for a week for 1,400 people,” Lee said.
The “canned load” in the truck included cans of beef chunks, turkey chunks, stew, chili, beans, vegetables, soup, sauces, fruit, peanut butter, pudding, flour, pasta and powdered milk. Lee said. He said there will be another load coming next month that will contain different foods.
Lee said he believes that the church’s young missionaries, while working with IMACA, brought the local organization to the attention of the church. The initial request was probably made several weeks ago before going up through the church’s leadership and being approved.
“This was inspired,” Lee said. “This came in at just the right time for this community.”
Lee said the church has great stores of food and owns farms and packing and canning facilities across the nation and the world.
“We’re very, very much into being prepared..” Lee said. “Every week, I’m told, about six to 10 of these trailers leave Salt Lake City for communities across the nation.”
Lee pointed out that church officers are not paid and have regular jobs beyond their church obligations. He said donations from the church are paid for by church members through tithes and a “fast offerings,” which occurs once a month when members fast and donate the money that they would have spent on food.
Lee said the church’s current prophet, Russell M. Nelson, also referred to as the church’s president was a heart surgeon in his “normal life.” Nelson knew people in China from his surgical experiences and called them to see what they needed when the pandemic broke.
“They were right next to Wuhan (where COVID-19 first prevailed in December),” Lee said. “He called them and asked what they needed and they said we need face masks and PPE (personal protective equipment). And he went into the church stores and sent, I think it was 10 million face masks and similar gloves and gowns over to China for the COVID response.”
He said the church has four plants that make clothing for the church and they’ve all been converted over to making face masks and PPE.
“We respond to those humanitarian needs everywhere and are responding now in great measure,” Lee said.
Jeanne Thomas, food services supervisor for IMACA, said the humanitarian need in the area has almost tripled since the pandemic outbreak. She said before the pandemic IMACA was providing food for about 350 households. That number has grown to about 1,000.
Mitch Robison, food specialist for IMACA, said the organization puts on more than 400 highway miles with each distribution run, delivering food from Tecopah in south Inyo County to Walker in north Mono County. He said IMACA has donated to the Mammoth Lakes Food Bank, which hosts drive-through food service on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“We’ve been sharing with them what we can,” Robison said.
Thomas said IMACA currently has 50 to 60 volunteers in Inyo and Mono counties. There is a volunteer sign-up form on the agency’s website.
“We’ve had a lot of great support,” Thomas said. “We never know how its going to go.”