Alaska plan for emergency food stockpile hits bump

AP News
Posted: Jan 04, 2013 7:45 PM

Alaska's plan to stash stockpiles of emergency food in case the state is cut off from supplies by a disaster has hit a bump.

The state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs this week canceled its solicitation for proposals after receiving just one response, which was rejected. Department procurement officer Jolund Luther said Friday that the company that responded could not come up with a performance bond, which would have ensured the project was seen to its completion if the contractor went bankrupt or out of business.

Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the state's emergency preparedness division, said officials remain committed to the plan and will look for ways to improve the solicitation before moving forward again.

"We want to do this project well, and not necessarily fast," he said.

The department issued a request for proposals in August, with a goal of having two storage sites ready and one-third of the food supply in place by the end of 2012.

Ultimately, the proposal sought a sufficient amount of rations to feed 40,000 people for seven days.

The food was to have a five-year shelf life and meet the nutritional, health and cultural requirements of the state's demographics.

Gov. Sean Parnell has promoted such emergency preparations as part of a larger push to improve disaster readiness across the state.

Zidek said the state has made strides toward the bigger goal in recent years, including acquiring or purchasing water purification units, communications systems and emergency power generators designed to work in cold climates, including units that could power facilities like hospitals.

The food stockpile project had a budget of $3.5 million to $4 million, and Luther said that money will remain available as officials consider how best to proceed.