HILDALE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) A food crisis is happening within the Fundamentalist LDS community in southern Utah.
It’s been just over a week since the FBI raided several businesses in Hildale, UT and Colorado City, AZ.
People living near the Arizona border to say it set off a chain reaction leaving hundreds of families hungry.
Southwest Recover Mission in Apple Valley is serving the polygamist community is seeing an uptick in customers after the FLDS raid.
A family of 20 came for the first time Thursday.
“On average, our family is a single mom with ten kids,” Phil Jessop said.
Brian Mackert grew up in a polygamous family and moved back to Hildale.
He says the food crisis came after the FBI raided the community’s storehouse, which stored all of the food bought with welfare assistance.
“The benefits for this month are sitting in a storehouse that they don’t have access to because it’s evidence. There is an immediate need. Families are desperate to feed their children,” Mackert said.
According to the federal indictment, nearly 800 families receive food stamps in Hildale and Colorado City. Mackert says only the church elite are well fed within the polygamous community
Former FLDS members say the secretive culture is making the food crisis worse.
“If they go to anyone who is not FLDS for help, they can lose their family, lose their home, lose their wives, their children, their job. Everything is at stake and on top of that, their salvation,” Mackert said.
It is important to mention that the federal government did not terminate FLDS welfare benefits, after the alleged fraud was discovered.
Eleven members of the FLDS, including many leaders, are facing 25 years in prison for allegations that they took millions of dollars worth of welfare benefits from families in need and laundered the money to make other purchases through front companies.