It's midmorning, you are a foodservice operator just starting a staff meeting and the lights go out in your office. It's dark. A major disaster has affected the power grid, knocking out power to your area for 48 hours. What do you do?

Ralph-GoldbeckRalph Goldbeck, AIALuckily, this power outage turns out to be a short-term event. But, what if it had lasted more than 48 hours? What if it lasted a week, two weeks, a month? Is your facility prepared for an unscheduled, unplanned interruption? Do you have a contingency plan? If you do have a business continuity plan, have you recently reviewed the plan and, more importantly, conducted training sessions to make sure the plan works?

What is business continuity? Business continuity is the capability of an organization to continue to deliver products or services at an acceptable level following a disruptive incident. That sounds official, but business continuity simply means keeping your business operating during a time of crisis, which is critical to the success of your foodservice operation.

Having a continuity of operations plan in place may determine if your operation survives or fails during a disaster. As a foodservice operator you can access several resources when developing a continuity of operations plan (COP).

One of the best is at This Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ( resource provides COP templates and guides you through the process. The American Red Cross ( reminds us to "Get a Kit, Make a Plan and Stay Informed". This is not only great advice for your operation but also for you and your family.

Summer marks the start of hurricane season for several parts of the country. But regional exposures such as tornados, earthquakes, floods and wild fires, not to mention the looming threat of manmade disasters and potential terrorism, all could potentially prompt the need to activate a continuity of operations plan. The media reminds us daily of the possible threats that we face. Now is the time to get prepared.

Take Action

We live in a reactive society and disaster preparedness represents a proactive effort. It is time for you and your foodservice operation to take action! Develop a COP for your operation, or if you have a plan, find it, dust it off and practice the plan with your team. Sports teams succeed because they practice. You, your team and your operation will succeed and survive because you have a plan and practice its execution.

Good, clear communication is key to a successful foodservice production team and it is also the key to surviving and overcoming a disaster. During a disaster, it is imperative that you are able to communicate with your staff and your staff is able to communicate with their families.

The time for action is now, not midmorning when your kitchen goes dark...