The Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute (Benson Institute) integrated into LDS Charities in 2008, expanding its global outreach to better accomplish its mission to help families become more self-reliant.
The Benson Institute was founded in 1975 at Brigham Young University as part of the College of Biological and Agriculture Sciences. It was named in honor of Ezra Taft Benson’s service as Secretary of Agriculture during the administration of United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Benson Institute strived to teach families in developing countries how to become nutritionally self-sufficient and how to improve their economic circumstances. Participants learned techniques for food production, nutrition, diet, and home food storage. Families learned to grow vegetables and fruits or raise small animals appropriate to their circumstances in order to better provide for themselves.
Ezra Taft Benson spoke at the institute inauguration about the remarkable work that would be accomplished through the labor and research done by the institute in the upcoming years. He then stated that “at the proper time through worldwide … channels of the Church, correlated through existing developing welfare services programs,” the work would expand to an extensive global effort “for the betterment of mankind.”
The Benson Institute’s library, scholarship program, and body of research have all become important underpinnings of the LDS Charities Benson Food Initiative. The accumulated knowledge and experience of the Benson Institute are leveraged in food production and nutrition projects in a much larger distribution now throughout the world, benefiting thousands of families and individuals. Since 2008, there have been more than 160 Benson Food Initiative projects in 36 countries that have helped more than 130,000 people.
The work of the LDS Charities Benson Food Initiative pushes forward as it continues to enrich more lives. Empowered by the knowledge they gain and the results they harvest, people all over the world are discovering the blessings of self-reliance through this inspired program.