Emergency Food Supply

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 Building an Emergency Food Supply | Key Nutrients | Using your Emergency Food Supply | Tips for Building & Maintaining Your Food Supply | Food Storage Tips | Food Rationing Tips

A severe emergency could develop very quickly and cause major disruption to food systems from farming through to processing & distribution. A severe emergency like a pandemic could lead to:

  • High job absenteeism
  • High rates of illness
  • Overloaded health care resources
  • Interruptions in essential services such as power and heat
  • A person or family stuck at home ill for several days
It is recommended that individuals build an emergency food supply in their homes to provide food and materials for their families for at least 72 hours in case a severe emergency such as a pandemic were to occur.

Building an Emergency Food Supply
  1. Ensure that some food options in your emergency supplies that can be eaten without using power, heat or water to prepare the food.
  2. Stockpile food to serve your family for at least three days or 72 hours. Anyone on a special diet may require food supplies to last longer.
  3. Use the shelf stable food lists included below for guidance. These lists are not all inclusive.
  4. Include multivitamins in your emergency supplies.
  5. Add one or two items to your grocery list each week in order to spread out the cost of building your emergency food supply. Perhaps with an extra few items every time you shop or set aside $5 per week.
  6. Place your food stocks on a specified shelf or cupboard so you can determine the extent of your food stock.
  7. Rotate your emergency supplies to ensure foodstuffs are within expiry dates.
  8. Include necessities such as medications, hand soap, hand sanitizers, toilette paper; plastic utensils, paper plates, feminine products, contraceptives, etc are included in your stocks.
  9. Include food & supplies for pets.
Key Nutrients:

In the event of a prolonged emergency, survival will depend on continued access to food and water. Eating food with fibre is important to regular digestion. The attached lists include a number of high protein foods to help strength up over the period of the emergency. This list is not all inclusive and a number of other shelf stable products may be identified and included in your emergency survival supplies.

Food variety may be limited during times of shortages and you can improve nutrition and quality of the diet through ensuring that each food group is included within your emergency provisions. The main food groups are: Grain Products, Vegetables & Fruit, Milk Products and Meat & Alternatives.

Using your Emergency Food Supply
  • Maintain variety as much as possible.
  • Eat the perishable foods first.
  • Consume frozen foods before canned/packaged if power is available for cooking.
  • Understand how long your supply of food is expected to last in order to ration it.
  • Use Canada‚Äôs Food Guide as a basic guide for any shopping that you do. Generally foods expected to be in Alberta all year have been listed under the food groups in the chart below.
  • If foods are not available from each food group, it is important to know that eating enough calories along with a source of protein and water will provide energy and nutrients for the short term.
Tips for Building & Maintaining Your Food Supply

Include Cooking Accessories
Disposable dishes & cutlery
Manual can/bottle opener
Include Hand Washing Supplies
Bar and liquid soap
Antiseptic hand washing packets or bottles
Paper Towels

Food Storage Tips
  • Keep food in a dark, dry, cool spot if possible.
  • Keep food covered at all times.
  • Open food boxes/cans carefully so they can be closed tightly after each use.
  • Wrap cookies and crackers in plastic bags, and keep them in tight containers.
  • Empty opened packages of sugar, dried fruits and nuts into screw-top jars or air-tight containers to protect them from pests.
  • Inspect all food for signs of spoilage before use.
  • Keep your food stocks current. Replace older stock with fresh supplies as necessary. Date stock with ink or marker. Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in front.
Food Rationing Tips

Rotating your stocks
If an emergency arises:
  • Use perishable food in your refrigerator or freezer before using the shelf stable food in your emergency supplies.
  • Note expiry dates on products. Generally canned foods and dry mixes last 2 to 5 years.
  • As time goes on- ensure stock rotation & use up stock that is nearing expiry dates.
  • Do not purchase dented or bulging cans.
  • For food safety, discard cooked, unrefrigerated foods after 2 hours at room temperature, regardless of appearance.
  • Eat only foods that have a normal color, texture, and odour.
During a period of isolation or quarantine due to a pandemic or other emergency
  • Drink fluids regularly. Keep water cool where possible.
  • If your water supply is limited, try to avoid foods that are high in fat, protein or salt since these will make you thirsty.
  • It will be important to maintain strength and stamina during an emergency.
  • Eat small servings a number of times per day. Make smaller servings- ensure that there is no food wastage due to the uncertainty of return to normal supply schedules.
  • Space out your food intake.
  • Only open cans or packages as you eat.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Conserve energy- keep warm, decrease activity.
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Brad Andres.
This document is maintained by Stacey Tames.
This information published to the web on April 23, 2010.
Last Reviewed/Revised on April 20, 2012.