skip to Main Content
Who Will You Be Feeding In The Next Disaster?

Who will you be feeding in the next disaster?

How many people does your 2016 Emergency Preparedness Plan cover?

Disaster Meal Planning

Hurricane Katrina put the spotlight on healthcare systems and the need to better protect the elderly and disabled members of a community. In crisis situations, we are all dependent on each other. People in food service are in a pivotal position to make a special contribution to the welfare of great numbers of people who find themselves in need during a crisis.

Emergency management is necessary in healthcare communities and encompasses all disciplines. Nothing is more important to emergency planning and response than the need for food, safe water and management. So, how do you prepare and how do you calculate your emergency food needs for a real disaster? There are all types of disasters. It is important to have a plan to address individual disaster needs. Disasters come in all sizes and shapes including fire or smoke, severe weather, loss of power, earthquake, explosion, bomb threats, armed individuals, gas leak, loss of heat, missing resident and loss of normal water supply.

In order to be prepared, you must put together an emergency food management plan for your facility. Running a hospital or care facility is an enormously complex task under the best of circumstances; preparing a hospital for a disaster is infinitely more complicated. Take a look at how many patients, staff, surge, and volunteers will be at or coming to your facility during a disaster. The hospital plays a small but crucial role in emergency preparedness in communities. It is the epicenter of medical care delivered to those who are injured or in danger. Think about how many others might show up from your community as well.  When floods hit New York, Long Island was without power for 11 days. During Hurricane Rita there was so much surge from Hurricane Katrina two weeks before that the hospital ran out of food in 30 hours (despite a 7-day plan in place).

Once you have estimated how many folks you need to prepare to feed, you need to figure out how many days that your current emergency nutrition supply covers. The 3-4 day Emergency Meal plan is typical in California, but some states prepare for as few as 3 days. Definitely check your local requirements.The Joint Commission currently suggests a minimum of a 96-hour sustainability plan for emergency meals & water. A plan must make provisions for:Patients, Staff, Surge plus an annual in-service of plan is required. Regulatory requirements are subject to change. Be current on the requirements for your: City, County and State. You must meet regulatory requirements. The best way to keep up on current regulatory compliance is  to check city, county and state resources often; or join a coalition.

Next, how much time/labor is needed for managing your current menu food supply. What is the product shelf life of your current foodsupply for your menu? Choose shelf stable alternatives to save money and time on your plan. What is the cost to replace your entire emergency menu food supply? Take into account shelf life and the time it takes to reorder and stock replacements to keep inventory survey ready. Do you have an adequate place to store your inventory in a cool dry location onsite?

Though crises are inevitable, their outcome is not predetermined. “Anyone who can predict and plan for a crisis or turning point in their business and personal life stands a far better chance of capitalizing on that opportunity than someone who allows the crisis to sneak up on him unprepared,” writes Steven Fink in Crisis Management: Planning for the Inevitable. Planning for and managing crisis, he says, “is the art of removing much of the risk and uncertainty to allow you to achieve more control over your own destiny.” Meals for All is committed to helping healthcare communities ensure institutional emergency preparedness for uninterrupted nutrition care that saves lives and money. Emergencies happen: prepare, plan, stay informed.

Back To Top