Texas operators share their hurricane readiness tips

florida storm

As Hurricane Harvey showed, severe storms can leave foodservice operators with the two-pronged challenge of trying to continue foodservice while facing severe damage. Here are some tips from Texas operators affected by last week’s hurricane on how to best to weather the storm. 

1. Think beyond your institution

food supply

After disaster strikes, school staff may be called to serve at other schools in the area. “My advice is to make sure you have someone from the foodservice department ready to assist any school that might be taken over for emergency food preparation,” says Rosalyn Cloud, food and nutrition manager for Dickinson Independent School District in Dickinson, Texas.

The same can be said for operations at the college level. David McDonald, senior business director for Rice Housing and Dining at Rice University in Houston, says that operators have to remember that students living on campus might not be the only mouths to feed. “You may have to feed other undergrads and grads off campus, as well as staff staying to ride out and recover,” he says.

2. Expand your providers

partnerships

To ensure you have enough supplies, McDonald suggests that operators make agreements with other providers instead of relying solely on their prime vendors. “You never know if one will be cut off from resupply,” he says. “Vendors also may have to come from other cities, so arrangements should be made. For example, we were ready to purchase from San Antonio and Dallas rather than Houston due to the high water.”

3. Divide and conquer

staff meeting

When severe weather is on its way, Houston Methodist Hospital splits its foodservice staff into two groups: those who will ride out the storm on-site, and those who will act as the recovery team. When discussing how the groups will be formed, “We try and talk with people to decide what is going to work for them,” Vice President of Operations Sharon Johnson says. “For example, staff with kids would be on our recovery team so they don’t have to ride out the storm in the hospital.”

4. Make supplies last

cafeteria food

To make sure that operators get the most out of their food stock, McDonald says that perishables should be consumed first, followed by frozen foods and then dry goods. He also recommends to stretch supplies by prepping meals that include “just the essentials.”

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