ANC 2006 Los Angeles July 16-19, 2006
Safety & Security Track Los Angeles, California
Speakers: Gail Johnson, MS, RD, Assistant Superintendent for Auxiliary Services, East Baton Rouge Parish Child Nutrition Program
Theresa Stretch, Food Nutrition Specialist, National Food Service Management Institute
Keep your contact list current.
Given their experience with past hurricanes, the team understood
The response of East Baton Rouge Parish’s Child Nutrition the importance of current contact information. Prior to Katrina,
Program to Hurricane Katrina demonstrates the benefits of if anyone moved or changed phone numbers, they updated their
having a sound emergency response plan in place. East Baton contact information. As a result, when disaster struck all parties
Rouge was able to execute its plan and provide vital services to were accessible and knew how to reach each other.
those in need. This success resulted from careful planning and
effective communication. The practices employed were Use remote backups.
consistent with those suggested in preparing for any type of The team had taken the precaution to store backup information
emergency. in a remote location. With severe water damage to many parts of
Baton Rouge, it would have been difficult to obtain critical infor-
mation had it been stored locally. But, by backing up critical
Context information and storing it remotely, it was accessible.
Ms. Johnson shared her experiences from Hurricane Katrina. In
addition to dealing with damage to its parish, Baton Rouge found Keep accurate records.
itself with 250,000 new residents. Johnson described how the East The emergency response team kept accurate records of their
Baton Rouge Parish Child Nutrition Program executed its activities. By doing so, they could better review their performance
emergency preparedness plan and how it dealt with increased and assess plans for future emergency situations. In fact, a team
demand for its services. Ms. Stretch provided general information is currently assessing the results from Katrina to learn lessons
on creating an emergency preparedness program. and make improvements in processes for the next disaster.
Also, accurate records are beneficial in seeking reimbursements
Case Study from FEMA. By keeping accurate records, the East Baton Rouge
Hours after Hurricane Katrina passed through Baton Rouge, the Parish team was able to establish conclusively how it had spent
East Baton Rouge Parish Child Nutrition Plan went to work. money and why it was entitled to reimbursement. Without such
They set up a command post to assess the damage and design a record keeping, the parish might have had to absorb millions of
plan of action. Their initial focus was to save hundreds of thous- dollars of expenses in feeding the influx of students into its
ands of dollars of food from spoiling due to power outages at 16 school district without being reimbursed by the government.
schools. The disaster response team coordinated the movement
of food from these locations to facilities with electrical power.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Child Nutrition Program was only
With the immediate crisis averted, the team focused on provid- able to respond effectively to this emergency because it had
ing school lunches for those taking refuge in Baton Rouge. Tasks planned ahead. It had a written disaster response plan, which
were assigned and employees worked to secure food and labor to had been evaluated and was updated on an ongoing basis.
serve meals to a dramatically increased school population. This Furthermore, the plan established clear responsibilities so that
was no easy task. Local vendors had sustained heavy losses and team members knew exactly what they were supposed to do when
could not deliver food. Team members had to establish new food the time came. Also, the plan had been periodically reviewed,
sources, often obtaining bulk shipments at a central ware-house evaluated, and modified to improve its effectiveness.
and arranging for distribution to individual schools.
“Once people got over the shock of losing every-
Initially, some schools were forced to serve makeshift meals. Yet, thing, their question was ‘What am I going to eat?’”
the district managed to feed the students, an achievement in ⎯ Gail Johnson
which they took great pride. For many who lost their possess-
ions, it was a comfort knowing their children would be fed. To plan for any disaster, several steps should be taken.
Experience has identified several best practices in preparing for a
Key Conclusions potential disaster. The key steps are:
1. Make contact with team members and assign responsibility.
Establish a command post. 2. Identify likely disruptions in service (but remember that not
Members of the disaster response team immediately assembled all disasters are the same).
and began working a phone bank. This made it easier to coordi- 3. Develop a written plan to deal with disruptions and store
nate their activities because they were in constant contact. Given hard copies of the plan (as computers may not be accessible).
that cellular communications were down and power was out in
most places, it would have been impossible to coordinate 4. Teach the plan to staff.
activities had team members been in separate locations. 5. Conduct drills (practice, practice, practice).
6. Evaluate the plan and make revisions as necessary.
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