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Food concerns as
Y2K issue draws closer

by Karen Lyncoln
For the Pathfinder
February 18, 1999

"Eat what you store and store what you eat," advised Jeanne Duntz at the February 8th meeting of the Seeley Lake Community Preparedness Group. The meeting focused on food storage and resources for buying emergency-preparedness foods.

Duntz, a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, discussed the church's guidelines for the amounts of food a family should store, as listed in the pamphlet, Essentials of Home Production & Storage. Duntz recommended that people store the foods that they like to eat, adding that disasters are not the time to try out new foods or recipes. Duntz recommended that people figure out their food needs and begin to gradually stock their pantries.

The LDS Church has computer software that calculates the amount of food required. In addition, several Internet web sites offer "food storage calculators", including a commercial site at

Bruce Wold of the Valley Market described the 19-step program that Associated Grocery Stores are using to evaluate and fix Y2k-related problems. He noted that the store is in line with the compliance program and did not foresee distribution or supply problems next year. Customers who want to start organizing their preparedness pantries can order case goods and some bulk items at cost plus 10%.

Pat Smith of the Swan Valley Center described the new buying club that she is organizing at her store. Her goal is to supply bulk natural foods at the best quality and best price. She has developed a price list based on cost plus 10% that is available to all interested participants. Pat also discussed her interest in nutrition and her classes teaching people to make bread using whole grains.

"Windows are closing everyday. The number of reliable emergency food suppliers has decreased from 20 a few months ago to just a few today," said Pastor Gary Wayne of Faith Chapel. Wayne said that Y2k-related demand has stressed suppliers' abilities to fill orders in a timely fashion. Wayne noted that Azure Standard, Wheat Montana, and other local granaries are still able to fill catalog and telephone orders.

Wayne suggested that people inventory the food supplies they currently have on hand and then make a list of the foods their family likes. "Keep a list of what you have and then replace the foods that you use," Wayne added.

Storing food correctly is very important. Food should be stored in food-safe storage containers such as plastic pails and glass jars. Food should be stored about 18" off the floor, preferably in cool, dark places. Never place food supplies next to heat-generating appliances. Storing food in meal-size quantities is a good practice, especially if leftovers are hard to store. Store foods that are easy to cook and that don't require a lot of water to prepare.

The next meeting of the Community Preparedness Group will be on Monday, February 22, 1999, at 7:00 PM in the Multi-purpose Room at Seeley Lake Elementary School. Paul Torok of the Seeley Lake Water District will discuss water and sanitation issues and possible Y2k effects on the city water distribution system and well water systems, how to purify drinking water, and alternative ways to dispose of human wastes if water supplies are interrupted.

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