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Alaska renews push to amass emergency food stocks

Posted: December 8, 2013 - 1:08am

JUNEAU — Alaska is renewing an effort to secure a massive stockpile of emergency food supplies to be ready in case a major disaster cuts the state off from supply lines.

Gov. Sean Parnell has promoted emergency preparations — including urging individuals and families to make plans of their own — as part of a larger push to improve disaster readiness across Alaska.

The state ultimately hopes to secure enough food to feed 40,000 people three meals a day for seven days.

The state’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs last year issued a request for proposals to have two storage sites ready and one-third of the food supply in place by the end of 2012. But that never happened: the department received just one proposal, which ultimately was rejected when the contractor couldn’t secure a performance bond in a timely manner, said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the state’s emergency preparedness division. The solicitation was canceled.

Just this week, however, the department issued a new, scaled-back request for proposals. Initially, the state is looking for information on food that would be offered, including shelf-life, storage requirements packaging and dimensions, he said Friday.

Decisions could then be made on what types of storage would be needed and how best to manage the food supplies, he said. Those things could be pursued separate from the contract by the state.

The request also says respondents to the current solicitation will not be required to take special dietary needs, such as cultural foods, into consideration. It says those things will be dealt with by the state in an emergency on a case-by-case or as-needed basis.

Zidek said cultural foods or baby formula have different storage requirements than freeze-dried or other “shelf-stable” foods. He said added complexities to the prior solicitation, including consideration for cultural foods, limited the responses the state received last year.

Zidek said the state has continued to improve its readiness in recent years, including securing backup generators designed to run in cold temperatures.

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