Hurricane Meal Kits

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June 1 is fast approaching. For those us who have lived here in SE North
Carolina for a while we know what that means. Hurricane season starts.

This means it’s also time to prepare your hurricane kit. There are lots of
lists available for these kits and I encourage you to find one and follow the
advice. But, most of these lists are fairly limited when it comes to advice
about food and food safety. They usually say something like “shelf stable
foods” or “an emergency food and water supply”.

Extension Master Food Volunteers Margarete O’Leary from Supply (on the left) and Jane Kulesza from Oak Island (on the right) putting together the Hurricane Meal Kits

The Family and Consumer Science Team at the Brunswick County Extension Center of N.C. Cooperative Extension has worked to expand upon these lists to give you a better idea on what kinds of foods you should have in your kit.

Our first suggestion is to think about the food you already have in your house. You may want to start using up the food in your freezer to avoid loss if there is a power outage. As you do this, replace the food with containers of water. This will give you ice or drinking water down the road and will also help keep food in that appliance cold if the power is out. A freezer that is full will keep cold longer.

A couple of food safety related items that could be added to your kit
include 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 inside these appliances if the power goes out. An extra one of these would also be good
to put in coolers if you’re trying to keep food cold with ice.

Also get a tip-sensitive digital food thermometer. This will allow you to
check the actual temperature of the food. The best way to determine if
food left in the fridge or freezer is safe to eat is to know its temperature.
Perishable food kept below 41 degrees is safe.

One more piece of kitchen equipment that’s important: a hand-operated
can opener.

Now, think specifically about what foods you can set aside for a hurricane
food kit. Being prepared and having a food plan can really help reduce your
stress and anxiety knowing that you and your family will be fed, hydrated
and healthy should there be a hurricane.

Check out the Hurricane Meal Kit: Food Safety and Nutrition in the Family
and Consumer Science (FCS) section of our website. We have a sample hurricane shopping list
and recipes that use these foods just to give you some ideas. Our website
also contains fact sheets and ideas on Preparing for a Hurricane, Meal Prep
After a Hurricane and Foods to Keep or Discard After a Power Outage.

I know all of this material is available on-line, but you may want to print off
the food safety information and some of the recipes. Store these with your
hurricane food kits. Who knows if you’ll have power or the internet when
you need them.

Our Extension Master Food Volunteers will be taking this material on-the-
road. Look from them at the Harbor Library in Southport on May 29 at 3:30
p.m. We’ll also be at the Supply Senior Center on June 19 at 10 a.m. These
classes are all free of charge.

Be looking for our exhibit and food kits at the Town of Leland Hurricane
Expo on June 8 from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. at the Leland Cultural Arts Center
located at 1212 Magnolia Village Way. And at the county’s Hurricane
Readiness Expo on June 15 from 10 a.m. till l2 p.m. at the Government
Center in Bolivia.

If you have a group that would be interested in having this class at your
location, we can do it! Give Avery Ashley, our Family and Consumer
Science Extension Agent a call at 910 253 2610 or email him at

Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science team member and can be
reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center 910-253-
2610 or by email at