It's said that the only certain things in life are death and taxes. Now, we might be able to add a third certainty: disasters. Natural disasters, man-made disasters, pandemics - they can all strike with or without warning, leaving communities in chaos and essential workers struggling to keep things together.
In times of crisis, it's more important than ever to ensure that our essential workers are well-nourished and strong. This article summarizes key takeaways from the 2022 International Association of Emergency Managers Annual Conference in Savannah, GA. What we learned was that food and nutrition are essential but at times missing in emergency management. Many are left on their own to rely on vending machines, pizza delivery, convenience stores, and if they’re lucky, a decent restaurant that was able to stay open.
These are challenging times for emergency managers in the face of climate change. They are at the frontlines of helping businesses, cities, counties, and communities prepare, plan, and recover from emergencies and disasters.
Emergency Management Today
Emergency management has changed significantly over the past few years and will continue to challenge planning and response. With the increasing risk of climate change and extreme weather events, emergency management teams have had to become ever more agile and adaptive in order to respond quickly and effectively to any given disaster.
This means that they must not only be aware of current disasters but also prepare in anticipation of potential future scenarios. Key elements for preparing and providing for essential workers are resources such as food, water, shelter, medical care, and psychological support during a crisis when access and supply lines are disrupted.
The Increasing Risk of Climate Change
Climate change is demanding emergency managers to prepare and respond in new ways. Extreme weather events such as floods, hurricanes, and droughts have become more common and can cause even greater disruption. This means that essential workers may, at times, be cut off from traditional sources of food in the wake of a crisis when local infrastructures break down.
According to Earth.org, several U.S. states are at great risk of climate disasters in the upcoming years. Florida, Texas, and Louisiana top the list of states subject to tropical cyclones; California, Oregon, and Montana will be fighting wildfires; and low-lying areas like Louisiana, Florida, and Mississippi will need to address flood risk.
The GDP of just two of those high-risk states, California and Texas, account for nearly $6 trillion. Thus, climate disasters are guaranteed to increase and accelerate impact on our economy and particularly businesses in high-risk zones.
Food: A New Type of Insurance
Operational costs for businesses have long included insurance policies that cover property damage, medical costs, transportation fleets, and loss of income. None of these really matter if your employees are not fed and able to work. Food scarcity is now a business risk, and allocating funds to ensure food security for essential workers is a must for business continuity.
A recent development in emergency management has been the introduction of food as a form of “insurance” for essential workers. This involves pre-stocking supplies such as shelf-stable meals that can be quickly distributed in times of disaster. More and more emergency managers are considering a backup food supply as a critical part of their emergency supply.
These meals can provide nourishment for those who need it most, helping to keep them healthy and strong even when other resources may be scarce. Providing physical sustenance, these meals can help support mental well-being and a sense of security and comfort.
The Unsung Hero: Nutrition
An important area that often gets overlooked during disasters is nutrition for essential workers. While it might seem unimportant compared to life-saving measures like search-and-rescue or medical treatment, nutrition is vital in keeping essential workers healthy and functioning at their best. Adequate nutrition helps the body cope with stress better and boosts energy, both of which are needed during a crisis.
Often, military-style MREs (meals ready to eat) are offered to critical workers during emergencies. However, MREs are nutritionally empty, full of sugar and carbohydrates, and lack flavor and adequate calories, leading to an energy spike and subsequent crash.
Research has shown the role nutrition plays in supporting physical and mental health and maintaining peak performance. We can no longer afford to feed our essential workers emergency junk food.
Self-Reliance for Essential Workforces
Ultimately, the key to ensuring the health and safety of essential workers in times of crisis comes down to self-reliance. This means having the needed resources on hand before disaster strikes and being able to provide those resources quickly in order to prevent further disruption.
Food is one such resource that can ensure essential workers are well-nourished and strong during even the most difficult times. By stocking up on delicious, nourishing, shelf-stable meals ahead of time, emergency management teams can be sure that their essential workforces will remain alert and ready for action in any given situation.
Emergency management teams have had to adapt in order to meet the challenges posed by climate change and other disasters. One area that is often overlooked but of paramount importance is nutrition and enough calories for essential workers.
By purchasing high-quality, shelf-stable meals ahead of time, emergency management teams can ensure that their essential workforces will stay nourished and strong during a crisis. Taking steps to plan for food security now can help make sure that essential workers have the resources they need to keep working strong in times of disaster.
In an increasingly uncertain world, stocking up on emergency food is your insurance policy, so your business is prepared to offer nutrition to your most important asset, your people. Doing so could prove invaluable in keeping essential workers healthy and able to do their jobs even when traditional sources of food are disrupted. Emergency management teams should consider this option when preparing for the unexpected.
Being prepared can mean survival, not just for those who need to keep businesses functioning but for those businesses themselves. It’s our mission to help organizations, institutions, and individuals achieve the sense of security that comes with knowing that nutritional needs will be met no matter the emergency. Business must go on!
Our nutritious, flavorful meal kits are suitable for most dietary needs, have an extraordinary shelf life, and are cost-effective. Secure Foods® is insurance against food scarcity for the workforce. It’s one way to alleviate food stress for critical teams when the affected community is experiencing food shortages and potential price gouging. An investment in Secure Foods® nourishes peace of mind for teams and employers.