When we think of building an emergency food supply, people most often think about the headline-making natural disasters that send whole communities into turmoil. Floods, fires, earthquakes, storms—these are all tragic events that can put families on the street in an instant, without food, water or shelter. These are certainly prevalent catastrophes that should motivate us to prepare, to plan, and to develop habits and lifestyles to defend ourselves and our families against the unexpected.
But there are other disrupting calamities that often hit closer to home. They don’t make the news, but they are no less devastating than the tragic stories that do. They are the type that hit Richard and Marie.
In 2009, Richard was at the top of his career. Working in the same industry for 25 years, and for a single company for most of that time, he'd progressed through the rungs of his profession and made a comfortable living. His wife Marie worked part-time at a local school, and he supported the three children he still had living at home.
During those 25 years, Richard diligently paid down his mortgage. He and Marie bought cars for cash and saved a large portion of their paychecks every month. They also kept a garden, and every fall Marie spent weeks canning beans and beets, peaches and pears, and anything else she got her hands on. Their children don't remember ever buying canned food, Marie was such a prolific preserver.
And then something unexpected happened. In the spring of that year, a company buy-out left Richard suddenly unemployed.
Between a hefty severance package, temporary unemployment benefits, and an impressive resume, Richard wasn't overly worried. However, a job search that was meant to last weeks stretched into months, and then into years. For three years, Richard, Marie, and their three children lived on Marie's scant income.
Throughout those difficult years, Richard and Marie's family experienced several major events that strained their already strained expenses. Richard went back to school to earn a Master's degree. A grand-baby joined the household. A grown child passed away. It’s worth noting, though, during that time, no one in the family cashed in a single food stamp. No one so much as ate a free lunch at school. And no one went hungry.
Richard and Marie are living illustrations of the importance of food storage. Besides Marie's endless shelves of canned produce, the rice, beans, and other food they stored lowered their grocery bills to such a degree that they could continue to pay other bills while their income was nil. Marie ground wheat to make bread and used powdered milk to cook. They relied on oatmeal for breakfast instead of cold cereal. And the homemade jams and pickles made meals feel less like rations and more like normal fare.
Richard and his family probably thought--along with most of us--that their food storage was primarily to serve as relief during a natural disaster. But when their most severe disaster came, without any help from Mother Nature, they were glad they'd spent those earlier years preparing.
So, are you ready? If not, check out these helpful articles on food storage, and get inspired!