Turkey for tacos and items made from chicken, orange juice, and food trays are just some of the products that Shonia Hall director of nutrition services for schools service for Oklahoma City Public Schools, claimed she couldn't locate.
Another victim to the slowdown in supply chain is the school cafeteria, which leaves the nutrition department scrambling to put food items that are suitable for the students before they go back to their classrooms.
A couple of days ago, her distributor was unable to find spoons, sporks, or forks, and she was forced to go to the neighborhood Sam's Club to buy 60,000 of each "to get us through for a few days in hopes the truck would show up," Hall stated during an interview.
"We can't just hope. We have to be proactive," she explained. It's impossible to feed children without the right tools, aren't you?"
The problem of shortages, and having to go into retail stores to make up the gap in the event that distributors aren't available are becoming more frequent at schools across the nation.
"It's an additional cost to your budget, to your program," added Hall she added that she's thankful of that U.S. Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch Program, that has increased its funding to schools who are struggling to provide meals for their students.
The crunch is set to arrive at the worst time of school lunches.
The waiver for meal service called"the "Seamless Summer Option" has been extended until June 2022. The waivers permit schools to provide meals at no cost for students. Republicans on Congress have been vocally opposed to the plan proposed by Democrats to ensure that universal free meals are permanent because of the possible expensive price.
Experts discuss a variety of supply chain problems, shortages and increasing prices
OCT. 14, 202107:37
This week, President Joe Biden announced three of the biggest U.S. transportation companies, Walmart, FedEx and UPS will intensify their efforts to tackle supply chain issues . Retailers have already started to warn that certain items may not be available on shelves until the time of the holiday season.
"Never again should our country and our economy be unable to make critical products we need because we don't have access to materials to make that product," Biden made the statement in a speech on Wednesday.
Logistical backups at ports due to shortages of workers and Covid epidemics have increased the time it takes certain products to travel through Asia into the U.S.
"Well, we're struggling, you know, we can get food, but we're having a lot of outages and shortages," said Stephanie Dillard, child nutrition director at Enterprise City Schools in Alabama.
This school has been faced with a lack of consistent deliveries of food and other supplies such as utensils and trays, which adds another burden on the school staff returning from a period which was mostly remote education because of the Covid pandemic.
"Every week everybody is holding their breath, not knowing whether we're going to get a truck or not because we don't know if there's going to be truck drivers or there's going to be employees in the distributors' warehouses," Dillard declared during an interview.
Schools served nearly 500 million meals every month from September 2018 through May 2019. The figure dropped in the school year that was plagued by pandemics to around 330 million lunches each month according the USDA.
In addition to providing higher reimbursement rates in addition to allowing higher reimbursement rates, USDA gives schools greater flexibility in complying with meal guidelines, and is expanding the waiver to the 2021-22 school term to offer all meals at no cost.
Brenton Lexvold, a food service director at Red Wing Public Schools in Minnesota The director said that he's observed an increase of 62 percent in participation within the program for school meals, and has observed an increase in breakfast attendance.
If schools don't consistently serve the food they've told parents and students is available the family won't believe they can provide the food.
"Sometimes the customers are kind of taking a gamble of saying, 'Well, do I eat school lunch today or am I packing something from home?'" Lexvold told an interviewer.
The food service distribution sector is home to an estimated 17500 warehouse jobs and 15,000 driver positions that are currently open in accordance with the International Foodservice Distributors Association. In an earlier survey of the members of trade associations 100% of those who responded stated that it was either hard or very difficult to locate both drivers and warehouses.