Hurricane Eating Plans
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Gosh I hate to say this, but it’s that time of year again. Time to begin thinking about preparing for hurricane season by getting that hurricane kit started.
Think back to the last couple of years when we’ve had days of evacuations, power outages and closed roads. Were you really prepared? I’m specifically thinking about the food you have in your emergency kit. What would a breakfast look like? For some it might be cookies and chips along with a bottle of water or soda. That’s not a very nourishing or even satisfying meal. Being prepared and having a plan can really help reduce your stress and anxiety when it is a real emergency.
Quite often people assemble their hurricane food kit based upon random shopping for things that don’t need refrigeration or power to prepare. Or perhaps the food supplies are items picked up at the last minute from the closest store when choices are really limited. Usually little thought is really given to meal planning, nutrition for three daily meals, or how these foods will be eaten.
We’d like to help you make a nutritious hurricane food kit focused on providing healthy meals for you and your family during an emergency. Ren Levocz, a senior in the Public Health program at UNCW and N.C. Cooperative Extension of Brunswick County FCS Intern, will be presenting a virtual program on this topic called Hurricane Cookbook. This Zoom program will be offered in two sessions. The first session will be offered on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at 6 p.m., and the second will be Wednesday, April 14, 2021, at 2 p.m.!
In addition to basic emergency preparedness, Levocz will focus on developing menus and a shopping list for meals during the hurricane. There will also be a discussion on storage recommendations, preparing meals without power, and tips for keeping that food in your refrigerator and freezer safe.
One of the goals of the Hurricane Cookbook class is that each person/family will begin to plan emergency meals so that items can be purchased and collected into a kit. By knowing what you need, you can begin to purchase a couple items each shopping trip, so when the storm is coming you don’t have to rush out and get what’s ever left on the shelf. Buying a little each trip can also help spread the cost over a couple months. Once you have the menus and shopping lists written down, they can be stored from year-to-year, and you won’t have to do that work each year.
After you’ve purchased these needed supplies, they should be stored in waterproof bags or containers with a lid. Label these containers as “hurricane food,” and keep them separate from the rest of the food in the pantry so they won’t be eaten before the storm. After the season is over, you can work to eat these foods or perhaps donate to a food pantry before they expire.
I have a couple favorite items I would encourage you to purchase for your hurricane kit. I don’t always see these items on other supply lists, but they would be helpful if the power goes out. Get a couple freezer and refrigerator thermometers (these are good to have all year round, not just in an emergency). Place a thermometer in both the freezer and refrigerator. This way you can tell the temperature of air inside these appliances.
Also, get a tip-sensitive digital food thermometer like they use in restaurants. This will allow you to check the actual temperature of the food. This is the best and most accurate way to determine if food left in the fridge or freezer is safe to eat. Food kept below 41 degrees is safe.
The University of Florida, IFAS Extension has a great handout on this topic: Think Nutrition During the Hurricane Season
NC State Extension has a series of Disaster Preparedness Factsheets.
For information on how to register for the Hurricane Cookbook program contact the Brunswick County office of N.C. Cooperative Extension or at our website. Sign-up soon as spaces in these classes are limited.
Cheryle Syracuse wrote this article and more similar ones for the Family and Consumer Sciences Column in the Brunswick Beacon. Syracuse is an FCS team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, 910-253-2610.