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Stock an Emergency Food Pantry


Updated May 09, 2014


Stock non-perishables in your emergency food pantry.

Malcolm Romain
can opener

Make sure you have a can opener that doesn't require electricity.

bottled water

Don't forget about bottled water.

Zeth Lorenzo

Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, major earthquakes, extreme blizzards and other disasters could leave you trapped without electricity for hours or day. Keep an emergency food pantry stocked with foods to help you get by until the disaster has passed.

Keep an emergency food pantry list.

You'll need protein, carbohydrates and fats to keep up your energy, so buy and store nonperishable foods that meet those requirements:

Dried meats. Beef jerky or beef sticks are good sources of long-storing protein.

Canned fish and meat. Canned tuna is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Canned ham and sandwich spreads can be eaten with crackers. Canned beans are an excellent source of vegetarian nutrition.

Canned fruits. Peaches, pears, berries and applesauce are good sources of vitamin C and other nutrients.

Canned vegetables. Vegetables, such as beans, peas, and carrots.

Dried fruits. Dried fruits, such as raisins, are another way to get the nutrition of fruit in your emergency food pantry.

Whole grain crackers. These are good replacements for bread, but you'll need to replace them often ,so they don't get stale.

Nuts. Packaged almonds, walnuts, cashews and pecans have protein, fiber and healthful fats.

Granola bars. These are good for sweet treats and often contain added nutrients.

Homemade Protein Bars. Keep them in the freezer, or buy prepackaged protein bars.

Dry cereals. They're fortified with extra vitamins and minerals and can be eaten dry.

Shelf-stable milk. Or choose rice, almond or soy milk.

Juice boxes. Single-serving-sized juice boxes or bags don't need to be refrigerated. 

Electrolyte drinks. Drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade are a good addition to your emergency food pantry.

Water. Keep several bottles of water in storage in case your regular water supply becomes contaminated.

Multivitamins. A bottle of multivitamins can help supply any missing nutrients.

Can opener. You need to have a can opener or church key opener that stays in your emergency food pantry.

Large containers. Keep bags, backpacks or other large containers nearby. In the event you have to get out of your house in a hurry, you don't want to have to hunt for a bag to carry your food.

Stove. A camping stove or small grill may be used in a safe outdoor area to heat foods.

More Emergency Food Pantry Tips

  • Buy single-serving sizes whenever possible, because you can't depend on refrigeration after the containers have been opened.
  • Check the foods in your emergency food pantry periodically, so that you don't keep foods that have expired.
  • Rotate foods from your emergency stock to your regular pantry so your emergency foods don't go past their usable dates.
  • If you live in the northern latitudes, pack a separate emergency food container and keep it in your car during the winter. Choose nuts, crackers, dried beef, dried fruit and a container to melt snow for water.
  • Keep flashlights, fresh batteries, candles, matches, blankets, first aid kits and any other emergency supplies you may need.
  • If you lose power, keep your refrigerator and freezer shut. Your food will be okay for about two hours.

You can live a few weeks without food, but only a few days without water. You want your water to be clean, safe and free from germs and parasites.

Safe Water Tips

  • Keep several clean bottles filled with water and sealed tightly or stock up on bottled water from the grocery store.
  • If you are unsure if your water source is safe, the American Red Cross suggests treating the water with chlorine.
  • Consider purchasing a water purifier made for hikers and campers. Make sure you buy a water purifier and not just a water filter.

United States Department of Agriculture. "Model Food Emergency Plan." Published March 2006.

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