By JoAnn K.
I remember when I put together my first 72-hour food kit at a ward activity; I thought it was the neatest most compact “real” food kit I had ever seen. Someone had taken the time (not me) to painstakingly purchase and try out various food products and package sizes for 9 complete meals (3 each of breakfast, lunch, and dinner) that would all fit perfectly (in the right sequence, much like a puzzle) into a 1/2 gallon milk carton. I thought this was brilliant – each person just needed one of these 1/2 gallon milk cartons full of food and they were set for the full 72 hours (of course water also needed to be stored); what a convenient size, so easy to store . . . and better yet it was given a 6 year expiration date. At that point in time I put my food kits in my trunk and thought I was set for the next 6 years, good job me!
About 3 years later in a different ward I had the opportunity to participate in another ward activity featuring 72-hour kits. This time though the container of choice was the #10 can. The can isn’t as small as the 1/2 gallon milk carton, nor does it stack as well – but it’s larger size did mean we could now store a greater variety of foods, and it’s rodent proof, and pretty much crush proof as it’s rolling around in the trunk . . . and even better yet it was still given a 6 year expiration date.
Fast forward two years and as we moved again I decided I was going to open the “milk carton” kits and see what they were like 5 years into their 6 year storage life. Can you guess? They were disgusting! The smell alone was repulsive, I was going to at least sample a granola bar, but the combined smell of all of the stale foods had penetrated everything. Did it still have any nutritional value? Maybe. Would it sustain life? Maybe someone’s, but not mine! The smell alone made me nauseous, now combine that with the stress of an emergency and I’m quite sure I would never be able to keep it down, which would lead to dehydration in a hurry; which is worse then hunger pains.
At this point I was curious and opened my #10 can, 2 years into it’s 6 year storage life. I was expecting to find the food in a better condition, it wasn’t. It had the same awful stale smell of mixed foods. As I was relating this experience to a member of my previous stake who was considered an authority in the Emergency Preparedness arena she begged me to spread the word to my ward and everywhere else I could that these types of 72-hour food kits that “seal” up nice and tight and aren’t meant to be opened unless there is an emergency are giving people a false sense of security.
Many believe as I believed that they have their emergency food already and that it will just sit there year after year and be ready in an emergency. Many people will be disappointed when they finally do open their “sealed” containers and find the food completely unpalatable.
The solution is simple – Store your 72-hour food in a container that is easy to open – anytime. Then, you are more likely to rotate the products in your kit more frequently and nothing will go to waste. In our home we use gallon size Ziploc baggies and we rotate the food in our kits during General Conference weekend, then it happens twice a year. The older food goes to the pantry for quick consumption and the new food goes into the kits. If you haven’t checked your 72-hour food kits in over a year – please do so now and either start over fresh or rotate out those items that are no longer palatable.
Photo source: public domain