Enthusiasm for preparedness was palpable at a recent Food Storage Class held at a large Mormon church in Houston Texas next door to the Church’s Home Storage Center. Seasoned “preppers” and novices to the idea of home storage came from all over the Houston area and southeast Texas to learn specifics of home food storage, water storage, cooking in emergencies and how to accumulate and store commodities safely and economically.
This free community class was taught by Cheryl Driggs, Houston Area Emergency Preparedness specialist. Some of her classes have had as many as 100 participants, many of whom are not members of the Mormon Church. With a background in food science and nutrition, Driggs has 38 years of experience teaching and “doing” home storage. “We are anxious for people to build skills in this area and take steps on their own,” she said.
According to Driggs, home storage has broad appeal. “You never know who is interested. There are many people getting interested in food storage considering the state of the economy and the state of society,” she added. While many of the attendees were middle aged, Driggs was hopeful that a younger demographic would catch the vision. “We would like to have more young families,” she said.
Norma Atherton, Senior Trainer with Houston Health Department in Public Health Preparedness, and part of the City of Houston’s emergency response team, attended several of Driggs’ classes. “I learned a lot of new things from Cheryl on food storage methods and the various containers that can be recycled or reused for food storage. You might say that Cheryl brought me up to date on my food storage knowledge and methods. Also, Cheryl had wonderful ideas on how to store, label, and organize food in various places in the house. She also had good ideas on water storage,” Atherton said.
Atherton first began emergency preparations with her family in the early 1960’s. “My father carpooled with a man whose family was LDS and this man was his best friend. That LDS family influenced my father’s thinking for storing a year of food. We had a big yard and we grew a lot of our own food. My mother, sister and I did the food canning and food preservation. I have continued to store an emergency food supply to this day,” she said.
Atherton’s passion as a self-described “prepper” has served her well. “My emergency food supply has come in handy during Houston hurricanes. In NC where I used to live, we would get unexpected deep snow falls in January or February. We lived out in the country and sometimes we would not be able to get out of our neighborhood for 2 or 3 days. We used our food storage then as well. I have always had a grill, a camp stove, lanterns, batteries and such as part of my emergency preparedness supplies,” Atherton added.
After taking the class, Charman Balla from Fred, Texas, visited the Home Storage Center. Bala drove 2 ½ hours to be able to gather information and commodities for other members. “Gotta do what you can to help them get prepared,” Balla said. She takes orders and makes the trip once a month, and has been doing it for 10 years. “Some aren’t able to come, so I do what I can for them,” Balla said.
Balla is committed to helping members follow the admonition of church leaders. Members of the Church have been counseled for many years to be prepared for adversity, having a three-month supply of food that is part of normal daily diet, water, and a longer-term supply of basic food items. The Church has 101 Home Storage Centers across North America and commodities can be purchased on line at https://providentliving.lds.org/self-reliance/home-storage-centers?lang=eng.