Emergency Food Supply: 3 Month Pantry
Emergency Food Supply: Week 25
The 3-Month Pantry
Our next project is a big one. We’re going to start our emergency pantry by setting aside a 3-month supply of food.
Why Store Extra Food?
Earlier in the series, we set aside a small emergency food supply of a few days. But in a serious emergency situation, that is not going to be enough. In a real emergency, grocery store shelves will be bare within 3 days. Travel may be difficult. Money will be tight. Having extra food at home will not only ensure your family is fed, but it will free up resources for people who truly need help because they could not afford to prepare.
Rather than being part of the problem of large numbers of hungry people, you have, at the very least, taken yourself out of the picture. When it makes sense to do so, you may also become an asset to neighbors in need.
What Kind of Emergency Are You Preparing For?
Answering this question will help you make decisions about how much food and what type of food you want to store. Here are a few types of emergencies a family or community could face in the future:
- Job loss
- Personal medical issues that make it hard to get to the store, such as broken bones
- Flu or an epidemic with quarantine and travel restrictions
- Food system collapse and food shortages
Why Three Months?
Some people who are concerned about preparedness (like the Mormon Church) strive to have a one-year pantry. This is a major commitment of time and finances. The Transition Longfellow volunteers felt it would be easier to start building a 3-month pantry. Once you have achieved that goal, you can repeat the steps to add another 3 month’s worth of food and beverages and repeat until you have reached your goal, whatever that may be.
In the coming weeks, we’re going to:
- Take an inventory of space and figure out where to store the extra food you’re going to accumulate.
- Consider food storage methods, longevity, and protection from infestation.
- Identify what kinds of food to store for our family’s particular needs and tastes and think about health needs.
- Learn about food rotation so food stays viable and doesn’t go to waste.
We’re going to think in terms of storing 90 breakfasts, 90 lunches, and 90 dinners, with beverages and snacks (this is for one person).
For the next two weeks, jot down what you and other family members eat at each meal so you know what people like and feel comfortable eating. Contrary to what you may think, in a stressful situation people do not eat whatever is available. Rather, people lose their appetite and fail to eat enough. So it makes no sense to store food that you don’t or won’t eat just because someone said it was good emergency rations. Start taking notes now on your family’s eating habits.
Also this week, take an inventory of your current pantry.
- What do you have
- How much of it
- On the shelf or in the freezer
Google “Pantry Inventory Form” for examples of forms you can use for this purpose. While you’re looking at your food supplies, take a moment to move those with a looming expiration date to the front of the cabinet so you use them soon.
Do you know how fast you use the food you have? One way to determine this is to label each item with the date when you put it in the cupboard/freezer. For example, label 2 jars of peanut butter with the date and (#1 of 2, #2 of 2). When you open the second jar, you can see how long it took to use up the first one. If it took you 2 months, you need 2 jars for a 3-month supply.
This works for anything that comes in a package you can write on – laundry soap, shampoo, dish soap.
Transition Longfellow [hosted] a book group on Sharon Astyk’s book, “Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation.” The book is out of print but can easily be found online. Consider hosting a book group to join with neighbors who are discussing food preservation and the emergency pantry. You can also join a Facebook group. There are several.