6.4 Food Management
There is more than one way of thinking about providing food during
a missing child incident: No food may be provided - especially if
there is no source of refrigeration - or food may be provided for
all the volunteers.
The public will want to help, and many will choose to help by
donating food and by cooking and serving food and drink at the Recovery
Center. Volunteers put in many hours, and if food is provided, more
searching will take place. Having food available enables these searchers
to continue as long as their stamina allows.
Because of these considerations, the Recovery Center needs to
have in place a plan for handling food.
The Food Manager must work closely with the Resource Manager.
The Resource List (Section
on Resource List) will be the major source of items offered
to the Recovery Center. It should be checked often for availability
of food and related supplies and must be updated as offers are accepted.
This is done on a Resource List Entry Form (See Figure:
Resource List Entry Form).
Start Up Tasks
As soon as practical notify the phone bank personnel and the
media spokesperson of the following needs:
- Individual (e. g.. 20 oz) sized bottled water.
- Loan of portable refrigeration trucks.
- Ice coolers which are labeled with name and phone numbers of
- Monetary donations from corporate offices (e. g.. large grocery
stores) designating funds available to the search team, to be used
at the local store. (This eliminates a lot of waste).
- Large coffee pots, coffee, tea, sugar, cream, cups, stir sticks
- Coolers filled with bottled water and soda
- Coolers for storing prepared sandwiches etc.
- Paper goods including plates, cups, napkins and utensils
- Extension cords.
- Canopies (if your operation is to be conducted out of doors).
Open sided canopies work best.
- Folding tables and chairs.
- Source to wash hands (if your operation is conducted out of doors).
- Source of light (if your operation is conducted out of doors.)
e. g.. generator with light.
- Food/meal/soup/non-perishable snack food donations.
Recommended Food Management
- Contact local churches to see if one of them will accept responsibility
for food service. One of the advantages in using church groups is
that they usually have experience in providing food for large numbers
of people and most churches have kitchens with the appropriate equipment
to accommodate safe and hygienic food handling and preparation. Try
to locate a church convenient to the Recovery Center. It is ideal
to have one person from the church designated as the contact for
- If church groups are not available, any organization that has
experience providing food for large groups could be contacted.
- In many communities the Salvation Army has a food truck that
will come to the Recovery Center and serve at no charge. It may be
advisable to check on the availability of this service for the first
day or so of the search effort, or until a food service can be established.
- If no organization can be located to take responsibility for
the food service, it may be advisable to choose to provide only non-perishable
snacks and drinks unless experienced people can be found from the
Recovery Center volunteers.
Food Management Suggestions
If a local church or organization cannot be enlisted to provide
a food service, the following is recommended:
- Water (in individual size bottles), ice and coolers must be in
place before searchers are sent into areas to search. This is especially
important if the weather is warm. Put the owner's name and phone
number on each cooler and complete a Resource List Entry Form.
- It is advisable for the public to be asked to donate only non-perishable
foods. Prepared food should be brought to the Recovery Center only
by the organization responsible for the food service. This eliminates
the possibility of improper food handling, and having to return dishes
etc. All food stuffs being donated should be taken to a drop off
point established by the responsible organization. The public can
be asked to donate gift certificates to local markets rather than
actual food stuffs. The media is helpful in getting this information
to the public.
- One method that may be used is for contacts to be made to the
corporate offices of local grocery stores, advising that a search
operation is ongoing and the location of that effort. A request could
be made that if they would like to help they could designate a money
amount that could be drawn upon in the search area. This eliminates
a potential problem of people requesting donations that may not necessarily
benefit the recovery operation.
- The person designated as the responsible party for food operations
should take a daily inventory of donated goods and make a list of
items still needed. A food plan should be developed daily and volunteers
can be used in picking up donations, preparation of food items, delivery
of food items to the Recovery Center, serving the food, and clean
up. The first duty of each day should be to make sure there is plenty
of water, that there is ice in the coolers, and that the coolers
are located in a convenient place for the searchers.
- If there is an abundance of food items that must be refrigerated,
adequate refrigeration must be found. This could include the loan
of a refrigeration truck or something similar from a local source.
In the event there is an abundance of ice, local grocery stores may
be willing to store the surplus ice until it is needed.
- It is of utmost importance that any and all perishable food items
be refrigerated or put on ice until ready for consumption. It is
not acceptable to assemble lunches prior to the time they are to
- Any excess food stuffs should be disposed of or donated to charity