Creating a Food Security Plan

Food security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, means that all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs.

A good household food security plan is one developed well in advance of any issue or incident, without a sense of critical urgency or panic.

Different individuals or families will have varying resources (financial or otherwise) at their disposal, and any plan/strategy needs to ensure that it is realistic, achievable and balances the opportunity cost of any particular investment, purchase or decision. 

Food security is a luxury that we in the west have grown accustomed to, and indeed our whole society is built upon the premise of ample and affordable food supply.

However, the status quo is no longer guaranteed, and many are now conscious that risks in our society are increasing and cracks are beginning to show.

One approach to building a food security plan is to start with playing around with a variety of scenarios, and identifying how exposed you and your family would be in these situations, i.e. what impact might these have for you. 

Risk Assessment

A standard risk assessment would also include an attempted appreciation of likelihood, and perhaps for extremely unlikely events no planning would be necessary - except to be ensure you monitor the external landscape (economic, societal, political, environmental, etc) so as to adapt your plans if risks increase.

Your household food security (in a crisis) can be assessed in the following ways:

Food Security Plan

1. Your food requirements which are clearly dependent on your family size, food allergies, individual ages etc.  Clarity of your daily calorific requirements can then build a view of appropriate household needs depending on scenario duration.  You can calculate your daily calorific requirements here.

2. Your personal food production capacity including growing your own fruit and vegetables, or if a small holder, production of grain, eggs, milk, etc.  This is not theoretical capacity, but based on the reality of your current practical capacity (based on garden size/land availability, woodland, river, lake or water access, skill set/experience and time commitment). 

3. Your current food store levels that you'll be able to draw from in a crisis/specific scenario.  We recommend that you hold an appropriate level of long-life ambient food (frozen foods also provide some degree of security however they are dependent on a continued supply of electricity, which in many scenarios may not be guaranteed).

4. Your ability to protect your food resources from damage, destruction, theft and contamination.  For example, your food resources could be devastated by flood or fire, or could be stolen by others in a food crisis.

5. Your ability to obtain immediate food resources from others (assuming ethically). 

  • If you have a healthy bank account you may feel this is enough, however in certain crisis scenarios, this would not be adequate.
  • Other resources may be required to use to barter for essential food items.  For example, if you had medical supplies, batteries, water or fuel then these may well be similarly high demand items in a crisis. 
  • In addition precious metals (gold and silver) could re-emerge as a means of exchange in certain scenarios. 
  • Your proximity to primary food production will also provide you with an advantage.  For example if you live close to a local farm or the coast, you are likely to have easier access to primary food producers whom you'd be able to purchase from or barter with.  
  • If you have a high demand skill-set then this could also be instrumental in sourcing food supplies.  For example if you are a doctor, paramedic, pharmacist, engineer, or soldier then this might position you well.

Carrying out an assessment of your ability to meet your food requirements in each scenario will help you establish a view of whether you need to build substantial long-life food reserves in order to mitigate the risk.  Just be aware that planning and preparing helps us all avoid panic in the face of disaster.

There are in theory an infinite number of potential scenarios that could be considered, however the key ones include:

  • Local/Personal/household challenges/disasters
    • Domestic fire
    • Significant loss of income
  • Natural local disasters
    • Floods
    • Wild Fires
    • Earthquakes
    • Tsunamis
    • Volcanic activity
  • National challenges
    • Labour shortages disrupting supply chains
    • Riots
    • Macro-economic turmoil
    • Rapid/hyper-inflation
    • Import barriers/transport issues 
    • Terrorist events
    • Civil unrest
    • Societal breakdown
  • International challenges
    • Refugee/mass migration issues
    • War including biological warfare
    • Population growth consequences for food supply
    • Trade restrictions
    • Nuclear accidents/incidents 
  • Global incidents & disasters
    • Global macro-economic breakdown
    • Solar flares impacting electricity network
    • Globally significant volcanic eruption
    • Meteoroid impact (over 1km diameter)
    • Serious pandemics
    • Significant consequences of climate change
    • Nuclear war