If the SHTF, can you feed everyone?

The Prepping Dilemma. Preppers Will Be Overrun – By Family And Friends When SHTF

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I’ve been blogging for 14 years so I know what I want to achieve when I write a blog post. I failed miserably with this one. The Prepping Dilemma.

You see, there’s no solution here. Nothing I can teach. In fact, I doubt this article will help you at all.  How’s that for marketing? 🙂

I wrote this post for myself.

I debated for weeks whether or not to even publish this. It’s too long. It’s full of questions and has no concrete answers. I did zero SEO (Fellow bloggers that know what that means) and don’t even have a keyword or phrase to focus on. No, it was just me typing away trying to get my mind to wrap around a huge dilemma that’s been bothering me for years.

[clickToTweet tweet=”It’s Just me typing away trying to get my mind around The Prepping Dilemma. #prepping” quote=”No, it was just me typing away trying to get my mind around a huge dilemma that’s been bothering me for months. – The Prepping Dilemma.”]

So it would be great if this turned into an open and honest discussion among my fellow preppers but that’s a lot to ask. I’ll throw it out there and see what happens.

Here’s where I go in this article:

☑ Preppers Will Be Overrun – By Family And Friends
☑ Why the idea of a The “Prepper Community” is severely flawed.
☑ Maybe Steven Harris is right and there is a way to help feed some of your neighbors.
☑ Are we actually at risk of going off the deep end?
☑ Will those you help keep coming back for more?
☑ Will they tell everyone you’re a prepper?

The Prepping Dilemma

What is “The Prepping Dilemma?”

How do you say no to family, friends, and even neigbors? Should we, or can we, turn them away in a SHTF situation?

How many times have you heard it?

People are going to come for your food and supplies when things get bad enough.

We see it on the blogs, watch it on YouTube, hear it on our favorate podcasts, and read it in all the best post-apocalyptic fiction.

Hoards of starving people from the city are coming to get your stuff. Your neighbors are going to get so desperate they will kill you for a can of Spam.

Let’s not forget, the government is going to classify you a hoarder and confiscate your food and supplies.

Possible? Yes, I believe so. Maybe even probable, should things ever get bad enough.

But wait, let’s not forget about family and friends.

I don’t see many people talking about this. Could it just be MY family? MY friends? I think not.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Could our family and friends be the potential threat in a #SHTF event? #prepping” quote=”Could our family and friends be the potential threat in a SHTF event?”]

You can bet your last can of sweet corn your family and friends will be the first to overrun you if they didn’t prepare for jack. ~ Soon to be famous quote by Brian D. Hawkins

Especially if they counted on the government for a quick rescue.

Here’s the truth. At least my truth:

You tell me if it rings true to you or not…

There’s one prepper in your family. That’s you. Maybe your better half if you’re extremely lucky. I’m very lucky.

Everyone else? Well, they think you’re nuts. You’re a little extreme. Paranoid. Or like my oldest son said last month, about me, “Dad’s going through another midlife crisis.

Apparently, my kids think every time dad takes an interest in something outside Sheepdomville he’s going through a midlife crisis. And this happens a lot. Who-da-thunk-it.

Here’s where I’m concerned.

My family, the ones that live check to check and fly by the seat of their designer jeans – think they have an option should they get hungry.

I might be one mason jar short of a full case but deep down, those people are thinking, “If he’s right, I can go over there and everything will be alright.

A few have even said as much. My sister-in-law even posted it on Facebook several days ago. “If disaster strikes, I know where to go.” Wait, what?

Aww, no. No, you don’t. No, you won’t. Get that out of your head right now. I love you all but I can’t feed everyone. You better start getting on board and prepping for you and your family.

Mind if I rant a little? Skip this if you want, I’m going to get personal for a minute.

Back when my father was alive, everyone thought of him as a bank. He didn’t make a lot during retirement but he didn’t spend a lot either. It was important to him to have enough to financially take care of him and his wife, no matter what challenges they faced.

My family, his family, including me if we’re being honest here, counted on him every time we found ourselves in another self-created disaster.

This bothered him. It bothered him a lot. We’d sit for hours and it was a common discussion. He felt like no one cared that he didn’t have the finer things in life – due to different priorities, while they, we, overspent and didn’t plan for anything.

Why do those without, especially when it’s their own fault, feel they deserve what someone else struggled for? </rant>

Prepping is a struggle, isn’t it?

We go without certain things to prepare. We spend time, money, and a lot of effort planning, preparing and implementing a survival strategy.

Last weekend, for example, my wife and I canned 35 quarts of tomatoes and green beans. We went to the farmer’s market, bought the vegetables, spent hours and hours shucking beans, coring and skinning tomatoes, sterilizing jars, washing everything, and on, and on, and on.

I bet we spent 20 hours of hard work adding to our food preps in those two days.

Our family, the ones that think I’ve fallen off my bugout hammock, they were enjoying the weekend.

Don’t get me wrong, I think we should all do what we enjoy, and, truthfully, I had a nice time canning with my wife.

Here’s the thing though, how on earth could anyone think they have the right to a single can from our prepper pantry?

Do I sound selfish here? I’m trying hard not to be.

If we work all year round, just as we do now, five years from now, we’ll probably have a year’s supply of food for the two of us.

Now throw in my kids, grandkids, our brothers, sisters, and their families. That’s over thirty people off the top of my head and I haven’t even started counting friends yet.

So now, the family turns five years of prepping and struggling into just mere weeks of survival? Three and a half weeks, if my calculations are correct – and that’s with just 30 family invaders.

You see, the community has no idea what’s in my pantry.

My neighbors are clueless because we keep things like that to ourselves.

The government, well, I don’t want to go there. I mean, this blog is literally an open book, right?

My family and closest friends, well, now we have a problem.

They know I prep and, apparently, some of them have the misguided idea that I’m working and going without for their piece of mind. WRONG.

The Community Concept – Busted

We hear preppers with the “community strategy.” I love this as a strategy – if they have their own food.

Here’s the scenario: Homestead family is self-reliant and prepared. Let’s call them the Jones.  Starving people come to the Jones’ family homestead for help. The Jones family agrees to help if you have a skill or supplies said family needs.

  • Doctor, it’s always a doctor in these discussions, you’re in. We need a doctor.
  • Can you build a barn, fix things, work the garden? You’re in.
  • Do you have special skills or knowledge? You’re in.
  • Oh, you can shoot a gun? You’re in.
  • Veterans? In.

Welcome to the Jones’ homestead family everyone.

By the way fam, now that we just increased the number of mouths to feed by a factor of 20, we’ll be out of food before month’s end. We’re not going to get the garden started, much less reap what we sow before we all starve to death. But we have a bunch of skills – for a couple of weeks until we have to kill one another for the last of the food reserves.

A survival community is an amazing idea, but they have to bring food, water, supplies, skill, and labor to the table or the whole thing collapses and everyone suffers.

Here’s the truth, the way I see it. You have to either have enough for everyone you love to make it long term, or you have to be ready to make some very hard choices. Or you can die, that’s on the table as well. The Prepping Dilemma.

What about your neighbors?

Can you feed everyone in a SHTF event?

In a recent episode of one of my favorite podcasts, The Survival Podcast with Jack Spirko, Steven Harris Says,

It’s easier to feed your neighbors than to shoot them” ~ Steven Harris

The dude’s got a point, doesn’t he? I don’t remember exactly what he said the solution was but it had something to do with a bunch of rice. I think.

I mean, if you can buy rice and beans in bulk, and I mean like 50-pound bags or something, we might have a doable solution. Of course, we still need to find a manageable way to store some very large quantities of food long-term.

At the time of this writing, a quick search found 50-pound bags of Riceland Extra Long Grain Rice at Sam’s Club for $16.59. Member’s Mark Pinto Beans (50 lbs.) for $29.19. I’m actually blown away by how cheap that is.

So for under $50 each, you can send anyone away with 100 lbs. of food. I’d do that for a handful of people if it prevented things from getting out of hand.

But I see some potentially serious problems this strategy can cause:

Will you turn into a crazed prepper buried deep in a bunker?

So, how many bags can we reasonably buy without becoming a crazy doomsday prepper? That’s almost a serious question. I mean, I couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks but, at the same time, I don’t want to drink so much kool-aid that I fall into a rabbit hole of doom. I’m sure that’s a cold, dark and lonely place.

Coming home with 500 pounds of beans and rice just might make me second guess my own sanity. Does that make sense?

Will they keep coming back for more?

Give a family a large bag of rice and then what? It won’t last forever. Even if you give them a bag of beans too, they’re going to need a lot more than that. Who are they going to expect to supply them now?

I mean, we put on the Santa hat and have an empty sleigh. How’s that gonna work? Water? Toilet paper? Medicines? Meat? Diapers? Baby formula? Hygiene needs?

Unless you’re very wealthy, I don’t see this working out too smoothly. Sure, you can SAY, “I’ll give you this food but that’s it, I don’t have any more to give. Come back and I’ll have to get violent.” Is that going to stop mom and dad when their baby is starving to death? Is that going to stop you when their baby is starving to death?

Are they going to tell others you’re a prepper?

Here’s another problem… Once you’ve helped a neighbor, what’s to keep them from telling others they believe you have food you’re hoarding? What if they understand the strength in numbers? See where this is going? Now we’re living one of those post collapse thrillers I love to read.

Wrapping up

A lot of questions with not many answers. Was there even a single answer in there? At least I feel like I said some things that needed saying. Now maybe we can open a discussion. The ball’s in your court.

This article first appeared on Next Step Survival.

Stay focused with a clear plan and objective.
Brian Hawkins, out.

Brian Hawkins

Father, grandfather, Veteran, animal lover, law-abiding taxpayer, homeowner, trucker, and a United States Citizen. Oh, and I'm also a prepper, survivalist, responsible gun owner, and hiker.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Pat Parker

    I have been struggling with this myself, and I’m a half-assed Prepper! And a Christian as well. My only idea for serious people would be to have a back-up site to go to before your food runs out, or the neighbors/friends/family get desperate. I’d rather avoid than confront them. It will be hard enough avoiding my conscience. 🙁

    1. Brian Hawkins

      Yep, that’s the Prepping Dilemma hard at play Pat. I’ve thought of that too but I know I couldn’t walk away from my kids and grandsons. That’s four grown children, their spouses, and six grandsons (so far). That is 16 people to take care of and that’s way out of my financial range.

      Ideally, we’d have a place to go with enough food and supplies to take care of our immediate family long term. I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Not on my budget.

      A better option would be to get everyone on board and start prepping as a family. Unfortunately, normalcy bias is running rampant in my family. (I’m working on a post on that very subject, by the way.) I have a very supportive wife, thankfully, but everyone else thinks I’ve fallen off my rocker.

      I’m not completely discouraged, however. It seems like every time we turn on the news there’s a new tragedy ruining lives and I keep waiting for everyone to wake up. It’ll happen, eventually. In the meantime, I’ll keep living a decent life and prep as hard as I can manage without turning everything upside down.

      I wish there was an easier solution, one a little more certain, but that normalcy bias has been embedded into our lives generations deep and it’s scary for most people to face the idea that everything might not stay the same.

      I have some ideas to help people understand what we do and why but I’ll save that for the post I’m working on. Keep your head up Pat and don’t let it get you down. Ultimately, we can only do our best and we’re not in control of other people’s decisions.

      I appreciate the comment, thanks. 🙂

  2. porcupine

    My solution is to not tell people that I prep. I don’t even tell my mom, though I account for her when storing up supplies. Main reason I don’t tell her is she’ll tell my sister. Long story, but it would be a bad idea for my sister to know about my preps…

    The only friends that know about my preps are the ones that prep themselves. Most of them are better prepared than I am since they’ve been doing it a long time. I’m just starting out.

    I really think the best defense is to just not let people know you’re a prepper.

  3. Mel

    I see this article has been out for a while, but…This is exactly what my husband and I have been saying for years. We cant help everyone. We have a small group of like-minded friends, but if someone came here, could we turn them away…
    We made “Give buckets,” 5 gallon buckets with a mixture of packaged rice, beans, flour. The problem we see is if someone comes here, we give one of these. They will be back. We are not able to feed the world. We have worked hard to save what we can, while everyone is out buying new cars and taking vacations…but if they are starving, how do you turn them down? And! Will they come back next time they are hungry, will they try to take it without permission? Will there be a fight? We have other locations to move in with our friends, but that is a last ditch scenario.
    Also, I feel you on the canning, we just canned 14 cases of Red Salmon that the husband and I smoked. That is work. Watching the smoker to make sure the fire doesn’t go out. Then canning. The canner holds 16 pints, at 90 minutes per batch at pressure… That is a lot of time per batch to process completely

    1. Brian Hawkins

      Hi Mel, it can certainly get a little overwhelming just thinking out the potential issues when everyone around you might be in a bad way because they didn’t have the foresight we do. While there are people that just expect to be taken care of in one way or another, there are others that have been “programmed” by the system we live in to not consider the possibility of a really bad situation – like the one we’re going through right now. I believe many people realize now that things can get even worse. Hopefully, we never have to find out what would happen but there is that potential. Thanks for taking the time to comment Mel, it is appreciated.

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