Updated: Sep 17, 2021
Initially the COVID-19 pandemic caused supply chain challenges for grocery stores and restaurants. Now, schools across the U.S. are experiencing challenges in receiving food for school lunches and other meals due to supply chain issues.
The school districts say the supply chain issues are being driven by staffing shortages among commercial distributors' warehouses and truck drivers. Food service directors within various school districts indicate that their local food distributors are also affected by nationwide supply chain shortages and even challenges in getting enough pallets and boxes to store inventory. These labor shortages are forcing these vendors to delay or even discontinue service to its customers, including the school districts they serve.
Additional nationwide disruptions are due to an increase market prices. School districts that are not able to pay these higher prices are typically forced to make substitutions. Despite the substitutions, most school districts contend that students will still be able to select between a variety of nutritious items that meet the required standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In an effort to explore ways to encourage food distributors to prioritize school customers, the (national) School Nutrition Association sent a letter to Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The letter included recommendations for reducing pressure on school programs that are struggling with supply chain disruptions.
Thanks to the Jefferson City News Tribune for the heads-up.