As schools in Mesa face food shortages due to supply chain issues, the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) is also reporting similar circumstances.
“We are experiencing delivery delays and volume shortages for many products. For example we order 1,000 cases of an item but only receive 700 cases or delivery dates are pushed further out,” Karla Escamilla, TUSD’s Senior Coordinator of Communications & Media Relations told The Arizona Sun Times.
“We are also experiencing items we typically order have been discontinued or our currently not being manufactured. Beef, chicken and packaging products have been most common for difficulties of availability,” she continued.
Escamilla said that she school serves 30,000 meals per day to students.
The school district has been forced to rethink the logistics of procuring its food items, and has gotten creative with its menu options while it balances the supply it has on hand.
“We are not having to find new providers but we are working with manufacturers and vendors on submitting orders much further in advance than normal for example 8 weeks out rather than the typical 4 weeks,” Escamilla said. “We are also working with manufacturers on identifying what items will be available so we can adjust our menu plans and work with items that may not be experiencing issues currently.”
Some schools across the country are facing an exacerbated challenge with staffing shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Ohio, for example, staffing shortages are wreaking havoc in New Albany-Plain Local Schools, a district that is already facing food shortages of its own. With a lack of food, and a lack of employees to prepare it, school lunches have become a nightmare.
TUSD is facing some of those issues too, but according to Escamilla, the outlook is not so grim.
“We do have staffing challenges with a 15% vacancy rate (which is down from 20% at start of the school year),” she told The Sun Times. Our hiring process is a constant flow but we are seeing a recent increase in applicants.”
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