The key word in supplying for the needs of a segment of the population is sustenance. It is invariably impossible to provide luxury items such as fresh beef and dairy products in the immediate aftermath of some catastrophic event. Under such a circumstance there may be people that demand the very things we as a nation have taken for granted for so long, but the largest segment will simply take whatever is offered to them (or that they can find).
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Perhaps the greatest advice that can be given by any group or agency to their nearby population would be that everyone should make attempts beforehand to store up some measure of food and clean drinking water. That said, many people will not store their own food for a variety of reasons. The more individuals and families that do prepare in advance will lessen the initial burden on any attempt at mass food supply. Even so, demand will rise the longer such a disaster occurs, thus so any organization planning to be a clearinghouse for large quantities of food should consider the long term ramifications of their plan.
Types of food to distribute will follow, but the most crucial point of any distribution plan is the manner in which any and all supplies will be stored. Every effort should be made to ensure the following characteristics are met by a storage facility:Population Size: This factor depends greatly upon the number of people that are expected to receive supplies. It is typically a good rule of thumb to plan for at least 15% more people than expected, but no supply warehouse will be big enough to supply everyone infinitely.
Location: The supply warehouse location should be easy enough for the expected number of recipients to access, but should also be somehow concealed or isolated enough that it isn't recognized as a food warehouse before the need arises. Weatherproof: Warehousing food for population groups can be an expensive endeavor and inventories should be protected from wind, rain, humidity and temperature extremes.
Pest-Proof: Just as weather can destroy vast amounts, if not all, of the supplies in a warehouse, pests such as rodents, insects and wild animals can wreak havoc on items in storage. Continual monitoring of the warehouse is crucial to identifying such issues before they become problematic.
Security: Food supply warehouses will be among the top targets of hungry masses and make no mistake that should a catastrophe last long enough, there will be certain elements that will make every attempt to control the food supply. A wooden shed with no protection would certainly not qualify as secure. Cement or steel walls with very few access points would be much more in order. Such additions as elevated watch towers/stations within and outside the structure would be a wise investment. Few of us want to consider the dangerous ramifications of defending a food supply, but when all else has failed, food is the number one target of people in need.
Power: Warehousing fresh fruits, vegetables and meat requires a great amount of electricity for refrigeration. Because of this it is recommended that fresh food items not be a part of an emergency food distribution program. However, some amount of lighting may be necessary for security purposes. Determine the best possible options available to your site, such as solar, water, wind or fuel generated electricity. It is unwise to consider the local power grid as a secure and reliable source of electrical power.
Beyond the essentials of storing an emergency supply of food, some organizations may consider various additional resources that may be needed if a catastrophe lasts longer than the planned supply. Hunting wild game and growing fresh crops are possible options, but must be addressed beforehand.
Growing food crops is not an easy task and should not be taken lightly. Hunting for game involves stockpiles of arms and ammunition that could be devastating if they fell into the wrong hands. Another possible option in an extended disaster would be to send out forage parties to locate surplus food supplies in closed supermarkets and other food-related business. This option comes with an inherent risk of additional forage parties seeking the same supplies.
If there is any question as to the loyalty or mental/emotional stability of anyone in the workforce, the midst of a chaotic situation is not the time to be making changes to the roster. Although such tasks may be inevitable among one or two members of the team, a cohesive hierarchy and well-choreographed plan will minimize personnel issues. Leaders must be able to handle the pressures of even unforeseen tasks. The loyalty of security workers should be unquestionable. Strength and endurance by those handling the goods is essential.
As a disaster runs its course, depending upon the length of time, it may be necessary to fold new members into the team. If such a scenario develops, the same rules apply, but an extra measure of scrutiny would be in order during times of special duress.