Food Safety During Power Outages

Samantha Brann, Deputy Coordinator of Arlington County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), and Melinda Cater, volunteer from Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) and Sodexo Dietetic Intern/Master’s degree candidate, teamed up on Tuesday, March 29 to lead a class at Hunter’s Park Apartments on food safety and preparation during power outages. Hunter’s Park Activity Coordinator Anna Ochoa acted as translator so no one missed out on the important information.

Topics included how to stock your kitchen in preparation for an emergency, ways to organize your freezer so food items remain colder for longer, and tips for making the most of the food you have when the power goes out. Samantha emphasized using perishable foods first, then foods from the freezer, followed by canned goods and packaged foods. She provided several handouts to reinforce which foods spoil the quickest, as well as information about when to discard certain foods that have become unsafe due to lack of refrigeration.

Samantha and Melinda then prepared three different recipes using common foods on hand including Banana Bread Overnight Oats; Cheesy Black Bean Tortilla Roll-ups; and Pineapple Chicken Salad Sandwiches and discussed the nutritional benefits of each recipe. Residents enjoyed sampling the recipes and gave thumbs up to all three!

The OEM and AFAC will provide the same demonstrations for older adults in Arlington County during the next few months. This is a continuation of a partnership last fall during Hunger Action Month where Samantha and her team competed in a mock “Chopped” challenge at Carlin, where residents voted on the best recipe using shelf-stable foods and provided valuable emergency preparedness.


Written by: Melinda Cater, Sodexo Dietetic Intern