COVID impact on supply chains forcing schools to take creative approach to feed students
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Supply chain issues are hitting schools where it hurts the most – the stomach. Across the country, schools are coping with delayed or canceled shipments of fresh and packaged food and the Lowcountry school districts are no different.
Dorchester District Two, Berkley County and the Charleston County School District all say they have been impacted by supply chain issues. CCSD officials say they have been able to mitigate the impacts by ordering additional supplies and making back up menus.
“We have had to make adjustments to the menu due to packaging and food shortages,” says the CCSD Nutrition Services team in a statement. “However, the impact isn’t severe at this time, because our Nutrition Services Department has been proactive to try and stay ahead of this issue.”
One district in particular is struggling to get more than half of its order in on time. Williamsburg County School District Food Service Director Nicole G. Giles says they’re forced to changed the menu too often.
“Normally we would get about 90 percent of the items we would put in the order for. Right now we are only receiving about 50 percent,” Giles said. “It’s really taking a toll on us.”
Giles says COVID-19 is to blame for the supply crunch. The district sometimes has less than a day to find menu substitutes when items don’t arrive.
“Every day I am getting a notice from four or five vendors that we are six weeks out and this is due to factory staff shortages and not having drivers to pick up food,” Giles said. “It’s having a trickle down affect.”
The items delayed most often are the popular products – things like pizza, hamburgers and chicken products.
“It’s like gold if you find a case of corndogs,” Giles said. “But a single case of corndogs isn’t going feed a school with 400 plus kids.”
CCSD says they have found a work around for some of its products.
Officials say most districts purchase pre-cooked or partially cooked meat to make preparation easier. However, CCSD is buying raw hamburgers, chicken and beef from different vendors to get around the supply chain problems and cooking it themselves.
One staple that seems to be reliable is ground beef. Williamsburg students are seeing their favorite meals swapped for things like spaghetti and lasagna. Despite the supply chain issues, Giles says they have always been able to put food on the table for the students.
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