Las Vegas • When the Steed family sat down to dinner recently, their meal was a tribute not just to fine cooking and tasty ingredients, but also to Cory and Holly Steed’s organizational skills.
The ingredients mostly came from the store of provisions the family members maintain as part of their emergency planning routine. Cheese was cut from a thawed larger portion that had been frozen, and milk could have been replaced by powdered milk.
The Steeds are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and follow their faith’s recommendations to maintain a supply of food, water and other provisions for use in an emergency, an interruption of family income, or even something like a coronavirus outbreak that might keep them quarantined at home.
The Utah-based faith, widely known as the Mormon church, long has encouraged self-reliance among members, says Steven Scow, a counselor to the president of the church’s Anthem Hills Stake in Henderson. And while stocking up on food and emergency provisions is a visible aspect of that, Scow also included such things as pursuing an education, caring for health and keeping finances in good order.
“The more we can become temporally and spiritually self-reliant, the better we are able to take care of our families and others,” Scow told the Las Vegas Review-Journal . “Food storage is one aspect of that.”
Charles Clawson, counselor to the president of the Desert Foothills Stake, says church members “are asked to live prudently, live within our means and prepare for unexpected events.”
“When you’re able to provide for yourself," he says, “the more naturally you’re able to turn your attention to those in need.”
The Steeds have been married for almost 19 years and have four children, ages 9 to 15.
Cory Steed, an optometrist, recalled years of advice to prepare for emergencies while he was growing up.
A utility room a few steps from the kitchen holds white food-grade buckets filled with pasta, rice and other staples, as well as jars, boxes and containers filled with food that neatly line shelves.
Holly Steed, a music educator in Las Vegas, says the room serves as a sort of main pantry. When something is needed, it goes into the kitchen pantry or is used outright. Bulk goods — beans, pasta, rice, other grains and foods amenable to long storage — are transferred as needed from the large storage buckets to smaller, kitchen pantry-suitable containers.
Absent are freeze-dried or meals ready to eat and foods often advertised for use in emergencies. Holly Steed says that is because the family members primarily store food they use anyway. Keeping things fresh is just a matter of rotating stock, she says.
“And not just functional (foods),” Cory Steed adds. “We store chocolate brownie mix, just Betty Crocker off the shelf. That has a couple of years’ shelf life.”
“We store what we use and use what we store,” Holly Steed says. “It’s very logical.”
Cory Steed says they look for good deals on case lot sales and that keeping their supply up to date is now more than a habit.
“We don’t think about it,” he says. “It’s just how we live.”
Alex Isom, a surgeon, recalls that he and his wife, Heather, initially worked off of a checklist to create a supply of emergency provisions. The list called for families to “buy these items this week and these items the next week, and if you do this on a monthly basis … you’ll have three months’ of food storage saved up. So it was pretty simple.”
“It wasn’t a big deal to go to the store and buy a few extra items,” he says. “The important thing is to know where the items are, because things expire and you’ve got to rotate them. So it’s just being cognizant of it.”
The Steeds store water from their well in 15-gallon drums in the garage of their northwest Las Vegas home.
“Fifty-gallon barrels are unmanageable,” Cory Steed says. Water weighs about 8.34 pounds per gallon.
The water is replaced regularly, and the family also has a water filter and chemical treatment options.
“We don’t have a generator yet," Cory Steed says, “but we do have solar.”
Each family member maintains a go-bag with 72 hours’ worth of food, supplies and clothing, updated twice each year.
Self-reliance can bring comfort in a crisis, says Stephen Horsley, president of the church’s Desert Foothills Stake in Las Vegas. Even if coronavirus were to vanish, “you never really know when the next crisis is coming, whether it’s loss of a job or loss of health insurance or a disaster. Coronavirus is just one thing that could happen in your life that people deal with.”
For the Steeds, emergency planning is a routine, but they’re the opposite of obsessed doom-and-gloomers.
“Being prepared," Cory Steed says, “gives you peace of mind.”