Two school districts in Ohio are struggling to supply school lunch programs for students amid shortages of workers and supply chain issues.
“The costs have gone up quite substantially,” Parma City School District food and nutrition supervisor Bob Gorman told ABC5 Cleveland. “We’ve had shortages on many items from bread to cereal to certain chicken products.”
“One school may get a chicken patty, one may get chicken nuggets, one may get a chicken finger, one may get a hamburger that day. It’s really been hit or miss menu-wise with what we’re actually serving,” Gorman said.
Nearby Bedford City School District is also having difficulties. In a letter to the parents on Oct. 1, Bedford nutrition supervisor Jennifer Dickson said “the food shortage is beginning to really impact what we are going to be able to serve our children.”
“Many hours are spent each week ordering and reordering to search for items to cover out of stock items with foods as close to the items listed on the menus as possible,” Dickson said. “Each week there are more and more items out of stock. Outages are trickling down through commodity items and now into many commercial products and even water and beverages. Paper products including serving trays, plastic ware, portion cups, Styrofoam bowls of any kind and even paper bags are becoming hard if not impossible to acquire.”
“We will do our best to let you know when there will be major changes to the menu. Lastly, I would like to be able to tell you the worst of the shortage is over, however, we have a long, unpredictable road ahead. My staff and I will continue to work hard to keep the students fed.”
“Planning the menus, I used to really enjoy it,” Dickson added in an interview with ABC5. “It was fun. It’s become really difficult.”
According to Fox News, the number of meals served by the school district has more than doubled compared to 2020, up from around 20,000 to nearly 50,000. Part of the reason for this is the fact that the United States Department of Agriculture extended its free school breakfast and lunch program through the 2021-22 school year.
“As time goes by, the numbers [of meals distributed] are increasing,” Dickson said, but “Our staff is not increasing, unfortunately… we’re using more and more [food]. It’s definitely been a struggle.”
Supply chain issues have severely hampered the production and distribution of food and beverages. The Daily Wire previously reported that supply chain problems forced companies like the Hershey Co. and Kimberly-Clark to cut back on advertising and marketing spending. Kimberly-Clark is also expected to raise prices for the second time this year. Beverage giant Coca-Cola is also dealing with supply chain issues, for which the company is expecting to see product shortages through 2022.