FEMA inept: Sends way too much food

Today in the WaPo:

As many as 6 million prepared meals stockpiled near potential victims of the 2006 hurricane season spoiled in the Gulf Coast heat last summer when the Federal Emergency Management Agency ran short of warehouse and refrigeration space, according to agency officials.

In all, hundreds of truckloads of food worth more than $40 million are being thrown away or scavenged for unspoiled contents to be offered to domestic hunger-relief groups, FEMA officials said. Most of the meals were commercial versions of the military’s Meals Ready to Eat, which were ruined despite being engineered to withstand the demands of desert and jungle climates.

September 5, 2005 in Murdoc Online:

And I’ll wager that the same folks giving us reports of piles of unused relief supplies today are going to be giving us reports of unused relief supplies a month from now and explain to us how too many MREs were sent or something.

The problem at the time was that relief convoys couldn’t get into New Orleans and were stacking up outside the city.

It took the MREs longer to spoil than I expected…


  1. We got hit by Hurricane Rita, and let me tell you, there was never a shortage of food here. The national guard would throw cases of water and food for each of us x3 every day. We STILL have bottles of water from them in the house! It got so bad that we started to feel embarrassed for taking all of the free food they were giving us (we finally got a generator about a week in, and could buy/cook/store our own food at that point) and stopped going to get it. If I’d have known they were going to let them spoil, those MRE’s would be at my house right now :). And anyone who thinks MRE’s aren’t tasty… You’re taste buds are screwed. Some of them even come with little packets of saltwater that you add to some reagent to make (A LOT of) heat, so you get to teach your kids something with them. MRE- good in more ways than one!

  2. Shipmates, Regarding the ‘meant to not spoil’ idea. The MRE’s are engineered to last for around a year under adverse conditions. It is very true that many will last for several years, but that is dependant upon the teperature of the storage area. Under ideal conditions, 7-8 years of storage life is possible, and probably more. However, sitting in a non-climate controlled area with high ambient temperatures will severely reduce the lifetime to at most one year of guarenteed useage. Moral is: If you are gonna stash some away, that’s fine, but find out how they’ve been stored prior to your buying them, and keep them in a room between 35-65 degrees for best results. Respects,

  3. Make a Twinkie with some nutritional value (somehow) and you have the perfect survival food. Those things never spoil. (though they may evolve into mammal eventually.)