Food For Thought
© 2006 RogueTurtle.com
PROPER PRIOR PLANNING PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE
Almost every discussion or planning session I have ever attended concerning survival planning has had at least some thought given to feeding the people after they have taken shelter. I don't care if the discussion was called "strategic recovery planning" or "post holocaust studies", it involved getting food into the mouths of people who need it. Some plans were much better than others.
Governments have vast resources of talent available to them. They also have had years of planning already done for emergencies that are "similar" to the one we were talking about. Many planning sessions were merely a discussion of how to adapt one plan (out of many) to fit the current situation. Private individuals do not have access to years of plans or expertise in previous disasters. The Federal Government has an agency called the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that you can look up on the web and after hours and hours of searching you might find some tidbit of information that could actually be applicable to you and your personal planning problems. (3 more Ps, Personal Planning Problems)
The plans that I have been part of both as a military Officer and as a Deputy Sheriff, will have statements such as, "Meals will be pre-positioned in shelter facilities to feed XXX personnel for a time period not to exceed 30/60/90 days". Or they may task one specific group to do this work: "The 465th Services Squadron will provide food for all personnel in hardened shelters." The problem is no longer a problem of the planners, but on the people who just got shafted into providing the food. There is almost never a provision in an emergency plan on how exactly to PAY for all this food. You are on your own.
However, that is just exactly what we, "Joe Citizens" face. We have to provide our own food for our own shelter at our own cost. But, how much food?
To me, the worst case scenario for FOOD PLANNING is if you calculate that you will be gone from your primary residence for one year or more. One year away from home can have many implications:
- The situation in your home area is devastated and you cannot go home. Streets are severely damaged and water/electrical service is destroyed. This type situation could easily occur with earthquake or tsunami damage, hurricane damage, tornado damage, or other geological events such as Mt. St. Helens.
- The situation in your home area is under control of others you do not care to interact with. Invasion, home invasion, or corrupt government agents have taken control of your home. This type event occurs in third-world countries all the time, but are less publicized.
- Civil disobedience and/or military action in your neighborhood makes living there unsafe regardless of whose side you are on.
- Environmental conditions have suddenly changed from safe to uninhabitable. Chemical spills, reservoir breakage, flooding, or newly discovered hazards make your home unlivable. California mud slides qualify here. But, since not all of California is sliding away (at least right now) that's more of a get-out-of-town-quick scenario.
- Any other disastrous situation that would be unique to your own property or area. I won't include controversial things like "global warming" or "sea levels rising", or nuclear fallout, but I could.
In one of my (family) books, I wrote a section called "Shelter Food Planning Guide". It sets up a systematic method of calculating how much food needs to be set aside for ONE PERSON for one year. This is just my own personal method because I need to have something on paper in front of me to prove to myself that I am doing the right thing. SWAG's (Scientific Wild-Assed Guesses) are not sufficient here. Obviously, to feed a family of four, multiply ALL your figures by 4.
A couple of assumptions are used here for planning purposes.
- The shelter you are moving to will have all the space necessary to provision it with food for the number of people in your survival party.
- There will be no need to relocated any of the party within the first year of occupancy.
- Civil activity will remain fairly normal without the threat of nuclear fallout or foreign invasion. In other words, you can go outside and play if you want to.
- Food for infants and adults is considered the same. Most young children except for the really new-born, can use regular food processed finely down for their consumption. You will have to add extra powdered milk to you planning though.
- All occupants of the shelter will eat three meals as day; breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- No provisions are made for "midnight" chow, unless you consider that some members may eat their meals out of normal time sequence; e.g., eat breakfast at noon, dinner at midnight, etc. If that is the case, no adjustments need to be made. It just makes cooking more difficult.
- Normally, even if you are relocated far away from your home location, some form of trade is possible. If you're a long way from home, you are probably now unemployed with no income coming in. Trading goods and services for food is still possible, assuming the surrounding area is peaceful and not under the influence of whatever you are running from. If in doubt, stay in the shelter and keep as low a profile as possible.
- Garbage and trash removal provisions are already in place and do not make your survival shelter an unsafe place to stay. I call this the "teenager syndrome": Look at their room in less than 8 hours. Multiply that by 365 days and add in garbage. Enough said.
- Enough electrical service is available to run a large freezer.
My menu is obviously very boring. I used "Institutional Guidelines" in this planning and you can feel free to substitute anywhere you want. I used Correctional recipes in some places, and military recipes in other places. I stress home canning as a recommended option but purchasing canned goods is just as good. At least with home canning, you can recycle the containers. Any "Fresh Meat or Produce" is either locally purchased or frozen. Anytime you can find fresh local food, use it first.
DON'T FORGET TO MULTIPLY YOUR FINAL FIGURES BY THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN YOUR PARTY. THE AMOUNT OF FOOD YOU COME UP WITH WILL STAGGER YOUR IMAGINATION. MOST OF US WILL HAVE TO PURCHASE THESE SUPPLIES SLOWLY OVER A PERIOD OF TIME. ONCE THEY ARE ALL IN PLACE, USE THE OLDEST ONES FIRST FOR DAILY LIVING, AND RESTOCK AS YOU USE IT. KEEP GOOD RECORDS OF WHEN FOOD WAS PURCHASED AND EXPIRATION DATES.
Shelter Food Planning Guide
The Food Planning Pages are an attempt to "get a handle" on the amount of food required for storage for a typical family. I used the food allowances that are used in our jail as serving portions for the various foods. These are "minimum" requirements for sustained living, nothing more.
I broke up the meals for an entire year as 4 different menus. Four breakfasts, four lunches, etc. This was to insure that nobody goes nuts eating the same thing over and over again for 365 days. By having 4 different menus, the cooks will have options on what to serve, and not be restricted to only one item. As other foods become available (from new crops, hunting, bartering, etc.) they can be added to the menu as required. Substitute your own food preferences anywhere you want.
Make sure your storage includes sufficient empty canning jars so you can quickly process and store any excess food that becomes available during your stay.
THE MENUS SHOW THE FOOD REQUIREMENTS FOR ONLY ONE ADULT. TO GET THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF FOOD REQUIRED FOR A FAMILY OF THREE, MULTIPLY THE YEARLY REQUIREMENT BY 3. FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR, MULTIPLY BY 4.
Storage space is a problem for a year's worth of food. I have included a drawing to construct an 8-foot square shelf unit capable of holding 864 quart jars of canned food. This is probably close to enough space to store for ONE person for an entire year. Multiply by 3 or 4 to get what you may need.
Additional shelving will be needed for bulk storage of larger items such as 50 pound bags of flour, wheat, dry cereal, etc., etc. Only you can figure out how much space is needed.
Paper goods, such as towels, paper plates, napkins, etc., take up lots of room and must be kept very dry. Never place paper good on concrete as the moisture from the concrete will seep into the boxes.
Make sure to include soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, brushes, and any other items of daily living that you may need for a prolonged stay. Using the "institutional" sized items available (toothpaste, shampoo and soap) will allow you to open up only enough of them to get by, without letting a "super-sized" item go to waste later on. Plan on kids needing the same items as adults.
These menus are made up as examples only. You may substitute food items of your own choosing anywhere you want to put them. If you add grits, don't invite me over...invite Brooke. In my opinion, all Mexican food should be considered poisonous...but that's just me.
Don't forget spices, sauces, salt and pepper, and any other condiment you would want to keep in your daily diet. If you bake, add baking soda/powder to the list also. Avoid refrigerated items.
For every item you add, you have to be sure that you have enough storage space for the item in bulk sizes. It does you no good to have the floor of a shelter littered floor to ceiling with boxes that get beat up when you have to move them around. I would recommend a room at least 9 feet high, and with a floor space of at least 10' x 20' to start with. Shelving should be from the floor to the ceiling.
Building an 8' x 8' x 1' Shelving Unit, 12 Shelves, Holding 864 Quart-Sized Jars
This shelving unit is constructed out of 3/4" plywood. The Quart-sized mason jar is 7" tall, so you need to add 1" to the top so moving around the jars on the shelf is easy to do.
Each shelf has 8" of space.
The bottom and top shelves should be made from Marine-grade pressure treated plywood since the bottom will contact the concrete floor, and the top may catch condensation if there is a roof leak.
The two end pieces of plywood (the sides) are 12" wide and 8'-0" long.
Use 6 pieces of 1" x 3" Pressure Treated Pine (lumber) to support the four corners and to provide center shelf supports in the middle of each shelves.
All shelving should be held in place by screwing them with a MINIMUM of 2" drywall screw, three or four screws per shelf, per side. Drywall screws should also be used with the 1" x 3" lumber to attach to each shelf, with at least 2 screws per shelf.
864 Jars, each holding 2.5 pounds of food, will weigh 2,160 pounds. The shelving has to support this entire weight.
The shelf unit should be attached to the back wall of the storage room, using 3" TAPCON screws into the concrete walls. Use at least 3 screws through the 1" x 3" lumber against the back wall. These will prevent the shelf units from falling over when little kids try to climb on them to get the jar off of the top shelf. You don't want one-ton of breakable food crushing your kids. Keep a small ladder handy to get the stuff off of the top shelves.
Your unobstructed ceiling height must be at least 9' tall.
The top and bottom shelving can be made of dimensional lumber (1/2"
thick, 3" wide, and 8'1 1/2" long). Use 3 pieces for the top, and 3 for the bottom. Use scrap lumber (pressure treated) to hold the bottom pieces together, and to lift the shelving unit slightly off the floor.
All shelving should be frequently inspected for structural integrity and for leaking jars. To prevent leaking jars (and potential botulism contamination) from soaking into the wood, all wood should be sealed with shellac, varnish, or paint. Use several coats on the top surface, letting it dry at least 24 hours between coats. If you color code the shelves, it may make it easier to find food that has faded labels, or labels only on the top of the jar. Green shelf for green beans, etcetera. Keep a couple of zip-lock bags handy if you spot a bad jar, or a leaking jar. A spare set of disposable rubber gloves would be nice, also. Clean and disinfect the contaminated shelf immediately with full-strength bleach. It may discolor your paint job, but, who cares? Better clean than contaminated. P.S. This Unit is VERY HEAVY!!