Bob Gorman, the food and nutrition supervisor at Parma City School District in the Cleveland area said that “costs have gone up quite substantially” and the district’s schools have “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,” he added. “It’s really been hit or miss menu-wise with what we’re actually serving.”
Bedford City School District says it is “working hard to keep the students in our district fed.”
Jennifer Dickson, the school’s nutrition supervisor, wrote a letter to the community in early October, warning that 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,” she wrote in the letter, which is posted on the district’s website. “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,” she added. “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.”
Dickson said she used to “enjoy” planning the menus for children but now it has become “really difficult.”
The number of meals needed to serve students has more than doubled what it was this time last year — up to around 50,000 from 20,000 — due to the coronavirus pandemic and the U.S. Department of Agriculture extending its free school breakfast and lunch meals program through this academic year.
“As time goes by, the numbers are increasing,” Dickson said. “Our staff is not increasing, unfortunately… we’re using more and more [food]. It’s definitely been a struggle.”