Published On: Fri, Nov 19th, 2021

School Lunches Getting Burnt Due to Supply Chain Woes

The commercial trade and shipping industry has taken a real beating since the COVID-19 pandemic exploded globally in early 2020. If you live in the U.S., you almost never considered where the food and other supplies you purchase on a daily basis actually come from. No one really gives consideration to the global supply chain that keeps you clothed and fed. But now, due to significant product shortages, for the first time ever, many Americans are going without. 

While companies are doing everything they can to speed up the supply chain such as partnering with professional forwarders, many ports like those off of Los Angeles and Long Beach remain inaccessible to the many cargo freighters docked outside their piers simply because there’s not enough dock workers to go around and due to new statewide regulations on heavy duty trucks, their emissions, and other policies. 

photo/ Jorg pixabay user: maja7777

Says All Forward, the new all-in-one forwarding platform, the supply chain process can be sped up by becoming “a better forwarder” and partnering up to get better, cheaper, more reliable shipping quotes. You can also get more freight requests. What’s more, this can all be accomplished online. This is a very good solution to supply chain problems going forward. But this still doesn’t solve supply issues in the short-term. 

According to a new report, even school lunchrooms are feeling the ill effects of the supply chain shortage. When the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich is replaced with a lunch consisting of animal crackers and dried fruit, it become plainly (and sadly) apparent that the supply-chain problem now have school lunch menus in the U.S. “out of whack.”   

Reports demonstrate that all across the country, school cafeteria managers are doing their best to cobb together nutritious meals for hungry students, while skipping tried and true favorites and making available ingredients work for them. Simply said, the supply-chain crunch had made certain supplies and foods unavailable. Bouncing back soon from this almost Soviet Union era-like issue is up for debate considering other serious problems like hyperinflation and rapidly rising fuel prices.    

One School Nutrition Association executive states that school food-program directors all across the nation are being forced to serve pre-bagged salads and even substitute tortillas for hotdog buns in the wake of shortages, cost surges, delayed and canceled orders.   

No More Chicken Nuggets

For one school system in Tampa, Florida, the Hillsborough County Public Schools, the problems began with chicken. Nuggets, tenders and fried chicken sandwiches which had always been a staple of the school system were no longer available at the beginning of the school year. But as time passed, other items were making “rare appearances” on the lunch menus, especially grain- based products.  

The Hillsborough County Public Schools general manager was quoted as saying that breads, cereal, pasta, pizza, are very scarce. The overall student favorite, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, are nonexistent. 

The general manager went on to say that getting creative means substituting breads with crackers. It also means inventing new “munchables” like dried fruit and banana loaf. Trying to come up with something that will replace the peanut butter and jelly sandwich has been extremely difficult, much to student dissatisfaction.  

No Buns

Clarksville, Tennessee school system employees are reporting that students have been getting hotdogs and hamburgers with no buns for lunch. What they get instead are flatbread, tortillas, wraps, and crackers. 

Says Clarksville’s Director of Child Nutrition, unfortunately there’s nothing at all unique about what they are experiencing apart from what every other school district is experiencing all across what used to be considered a nation of plenty. Until recently, that is.  

Many school districts are adding disclaimers to their menus warning students (and parents) that substitutions to the lunch menus will be happening. Said one school employee in Hillsborough, everyone believes that finally, the proper food will be arriving. But then it doesn’t come, and they must find something quick to replace it. Not always an easy task. 

Paper and Plastic Products

Food is not the only thing in short supply. School systems are said to not be receiving paper food trays since they are yet another item impossibly stuck in the supply-chain problem. Plastic utensils are also in short supply or not available at all. Therefore, students are offered green salads in plastic bags they can eat with their fingers.    

One school official lamented that things are getting challenging because it appears that the supply issue is not improving. What’s more, the current administration in Washington D.C. has no solid plan in place for improving the situation, other than blaming the shortages on the pandemic. 

“It’s not feeling like we’re getting out of this anytime soon,” the official said. 

Author: Ravi Kumarr Gupta

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