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Mormons Save Lives with “Atmit”

In Ethiopian, atmit means “thin, nourishing porridge.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began using Atmit as a life-saving food supplement during the Ethiopian famine of 2003, and providing Atmit is now one of its many ongoing humanitarian aid efforts. It is an easily assimilated food made especially for children and the elderly—and it has saved tens of thousands of lives. It contains 50 percent fine oatmeal flour, 25 percent nonfat milk, 20 percent sugar, and 5 percent vitamins and minerals.

The Church of Jesus Christ began  manufacturing Atmit in 2003 and by the beginning of 2006 had produced almost 1,500 tons (1350 tonnes) at the Church’s Welfare Services dairy processing facility in Salt Lake City, Utah.  During that short time,  Atmit was distributed to Uganda, Sudan, South Africa, Haiti, Gaza, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka.  The Church of Jesus Christ often partners with local charitable organizations to speed the arrival of resources to needy countries.

Providing Atmit does not just entail a food drop.  Mothers bring in their young children for assessment to see if they would benefit from or if they need Atmit.  Mothers are then trained how to prepare the life-saving food and feed it to their children periodically during each day.  They then bring their children back for reassessment.  The goal is to revive children and increase their strength until they can eat normal food.

Mormon Church food aid in AfricaIn late 2008 the Church of Jesus Christ (Mormons) sent Atmit to Ethiopia. The LDS Church sent more than 1.4 million pounds (635 tonnes) of Atmit,  over a span of three months, with the final shipment arriving in the drought-stricken country in November 2008. At least 14 million Ethiopians were in need of food or cash assistance. While the crisis stemmed mainly from a severe drought that destroyed the entire spring crop in some places, the country also dealt with high food prices, a number of disasters, and a rebellion in the Somali region that disrupted food delivery.  Remembering the significant aid the Church provided during the 2003 famine, government officials in Ethiopia sent a request for help.

The Church first sent food aid to Ethiopia in 1985 as the country suffered through a yearlong famine that killed more than one million people. During Ethiopia’s 2000 food crisis, grain from Church-owned farms in England was bagged by British members and shipped to the country.

In 2010 the LDS Church sent 400,000 pounds of supplies to support relief efforts in flood-ravaged areas of Pakistan. These supplies include food items (rice, beans, Atmit and powdered milk), hygiene kits, handmade quilts and medical supplies.  In Pakistan Islamic Relief USA handled shipping and on-the-ground distribution.  The United Nations described the catastrophic flooding as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters in UN history.”

In 2011 the worst East African drought conditions in 50 years  left more than 13 million people in urgent need of assistance.  The LDS Church (Mormonism) was working with various other organizations to coordinate the distribution of aid in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda.  In addition to supplying Atmit, the Church of Jesus Christ was sending water tanks and supplies, trucking services, hygiene kits, medical supplies, medicines, and other aids.

Atmit continues to be produced in Salt Lake City at Welfare Square and distributed to people suffering from starvation in various parts of the world.

Additional Resources:

Mormons Giving Humanitarian Aid

LDS Philanthropies

Mormon Tithing