The Joy of Nutrition: Preparing Emergency Food Kits

By Guest Contributor December 15, 2011 15:22

By Clare Hicks

During my first winter in Twain Harte a wise neighbor told me, “When you hear a big storm is coming, get all the laundry done right away.” Sage advice, considering we had a five-day power outage last year.

Winter storms and their resulting power losses are just a part of life in the Mother Lode. Extensive outages can be dangerous for anyone who is caught unprepared, and seniors can be particularly vulnerable. Outages are often accompanied by hazardous driving conditions and impassable roads. Because of this, it is vital that people of all ages prepare to survive in their homes for several days.

Having emergency food on hand can go a long way to making an outage safer and more comfortable to endure. In fact, Tuolumne County Meals on Wheels, aided by 4-H members, plans to provide 250 of its elderly and disabled clients with emergency food kits – “angel boxes” – this winter.

Preparing emergency food for seniors may involve special considerations. Many have chronic illnesses that require certain dietary guidelines. For example, if someone has been prescribed a low-sodium diet by a physician, that kit should contain low-sodium versions of recommended foods.

Other factors to consider:

  • Select foods that can be safely stored on shelves, without refrigeration. Include some single-serving items, and foods that can be prepared without cooking.
  • Include at least a three-day supply of water – and at least one gallon of water per person per day – in case frozen or broken pipes affect a household’s water supply, or if a home is reliant on an electric-powered well system.
  • In homes still able to cook with a barbecue or propane stove, emergency kits can include dried beans or peas, hot cereal, pasta, etc.

An emergency food kit can make a great gift for the holidays. Make sure it includes a variety of foods, to provide a balanced diet and avoid boredom:

Protein: Canned tuna or salmon, canned chicken, canned beans, peanut butter, nuts and seeds, beef or turkey jerky, protein drinks such as Ensure, Boost or Carnation Instant Breakfast.

Vegetables: Canned vegetables, canned or boxed soups, vegetable juice.

Fruit: Dried fruit, canned fruit, applesauce, 100-percent fruit juice, individual fruit cups.

Grains: Crackers, cereal, granola bars, rice cakes.

Dairy or High-Calcium Foods: Canned milk, boxed soy or almond milk (fortified with calcium); powdered milk; canned spinach; pudding cups.

Clare Hicks is a registered dietitian with Sonora Regional Medical Center.

© 2011 Friends and Neighbors Magazine


By Guest Contributor December 15, 2011 15:22