If you've been debating stocking a pantry to use in an emergency, you might wonder how much is enough. Why do you need a six-month emergency food supply?
Let’s face facts. While we hope that our lives go on without incident, there are signs that the future might not be as smooth as we wish. Even a casual observer of our current society cannot help but be dismayed by rampant inflation, increasing violence, and the prevalence of extreme weather events. In each of these cases, a preplanned stockpile of foodstuffs could mean the difference between survival and hardship for you and your family.
There are many reasons to consider implementing a food supply. If the potential for catastrophic events doesn’t persuade you, remember that in a time of crisis, many people are unprepared. A six-month supply can help nourish extended family members who might turn to you for help in a crisis.
If you have ever lost power for an extended period, you know what a hassle it is to cook, clean, or even find the resources your family might need to survive. Since most stoves, HVAC systems, and communications depend on electric grids operating correctly, it is easy to see how even minor interruptions could affect a family's daily routine. You and your family will be on your own with only the provisions you had the foresight to stockpile helping you along.
This article is designed to explore the reasons why a six-month food supply is a good idea. We will explore many of the considerations you need to make before embarking on a plan to aid the future of those who will need to depend on you in a crisis.
What Are Some Reasons You Might Need a Six-Month Emergency Supply?
There are various reasons why a stockpile of food items might be convenient in dealing with whatever the future might hold.
The geopolitical forces in our world sometimes hang in the balance by fragile threads. If there is anything that the conflict in Ukraine has shown us, it is that governments do not care about civilian casualties when raining bombs down indiscriminately. The NATO alliance has already openly stated that they will defend any future advance of Russian forces into Europe, and should that happen, resources could become very scarce.
There is always the possibility of a conflict between superpowers, as China and the US have been coming dangerously close near Taiwan. Should some sort of aggression provoke either side, it is easy to see how a global conflict might begin.
If there is anything that the global pandemic has taught us, life as we know it can come to a screeching halt without much warning. People succumbed to the disease as governments struggled to get on top of the illness. From mandatory shelter-in-place orders, workers losing their jobs, and families afraid to get out for necessities, the spread of contagions is a real possibility.
National Civil War
The riot on January 6th at our nation’s capital demonstrates how divided our nation is. No matter which side you support, should something like this happen again, supply chains, infrastructure, and even governmental authority could be affected. An essential stockpile of foods could come in handy for families caught in the crossfire.
Extreme Weather Events
From fires to floods and tornadoes to hurricanes, it seems as if Mother Nature is wreaking havoc on families everywhere. While a stockpile of food might not survive a natural disaster, it could have an incredible impact if the power grid is interrupted. One example is that emergency services took nearly six weeks during Hurricane Katrina to pump the water out of New Orleans. Many people went weeks before having electricity restored to their areas. As the storm blew through, it caused 1,800 fatalities, destroying 850,000 homes and leaving behind $125 billion in property damage. It is easy to see the value of a stockpile when whole communities can be wiped off the map in a single moment.
The City of Jackson, Ms., knows a little about shoddy infrastructure because they have been without reliable drinking water for months. The city’s water system has languished from years of neglect, and now the residents have a choice of using sewage water out of the tap (a boil water notice has been in effect for a long, long time) or using bottled water for necessities. Even with the National Guard helping distribute water and the EPA trying to fix the problems at their treatment plant, families in Jackson are still struggling to survive.
Economic Hard Times
As goods and services prices continue to rise, more families struggle to make ends meet. What might happen if your primary source of household income becomes disrupted and you cannot find any work? Should times get tough, the stock market crash or inflation just continue to rise, eating into the buying power of Americans, a food stockpile could hedge against this kind of situation.
What Are Some Benefits to having a Six-Month Supply?
There are additional benefits to having a six-month supply of food on hand.
More Than Your Immediate Family Might Be In Need
Not everyone around you will have prepared for an emergency. Survivors will seek shelter, food, and water. If you have those items, neighbors may be turning to you for help. A six-month supply of food can give you options.
Financial Savings Against Rising Prices
As inflation has reared its ugly head, a well-stocked food supply can be a hedge against spending costs. This strategy can allow you to devote your food expenses to other necessities like electric or water bill. By putting less of a strain on the monthly budget, your family might not have to do without certain items.
An Immediate Resource for Cooking Options
If you cook, you know how frustrating it can be to run out of something just in the middle of meal preparation. An essential food supply gives you options when this kind of event happens. If you run out of eggs, use an egg substitute, or if the recipe calls for milk, and you forgot to pick it up at the store, use powdered milk. The advancement in the taste of food items means that most items are very close to tasting like the real thing.
In addition, a well-stocked pantry also allows for options when you haven’t the slightest idea of what to prepare for dinner. While no family wants to eat MREs every night, there is no reason why your family should not be exposed to the idea of easily prepared items that come from your stockpile.
A Resource For Bartering For Other Goods/Sevices
Depending on the crisis, it may become necessary to use bartering to transact business and obtain specific goods. If our economic system collapses, money will be worthless, banks will shutter, and ATMs will not be dispensing any kind of currency. A well-stockpiled food supply could be used to trade for other items that families might need, from generators or blankets to tools. Consider a pantry in your vault because those food items might be just as valuable as diamonds in a safe-deposit box in a national emergency.
Where Should I Start In Creating My Food Supply?
There are several things you should target as you seek to build up your pantry.
Have a Designated Area and a Plan
If you are beginning a food storage plan, you will need a designated area to house the things you collect. The area should be dry (critical), temperature controlled, dark (sunlight can affect the life of stored items), and able to be secured if needed. You should avoid areas you know are prone to insect or critter infestation. For helpful hints in designing the perfect storage area, see this helpful article from the University of Georgia.
You should plan on using a FIFO (First In, First Out) system that allows you to cycle through various items. Some foodstuffs last longer than others, depending on what you put in your pantry. Many dry goods can be stored for up to 20-25 years if housed correctly.
Begin with The Basics
During the pandemic, it was nearly impossible to find bottled water and toilet paper. While these are basic necessities, you will also need to store nutritional foods that can be consumed quickly. Many companies offer powdered eggs, milk, and other meals. For an example of a basic six-month food supply, see this offering from mypatriotsupply.com.
While a six-month supply of food can be expensive, remember that you can start small and grow into an enormous pantry as you can. Many consumers begin food storage by buying necessary items in bulk, then investing in more and more items as they can afford them.
Monitor Your Foodstuffs -
Many people have a food pantry but do not routinely review expiration dates and keep their stock fresh. While the longevity of some food items will be extended, others, like some canned goods, will be shorter. You should update your food pantry to keep spoilage to a minimum. The last thing you want is for a national emergency to happen just to find out that half of the items in your pantry are unusable.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker