Springfield, Bolivar school leaders discuss challenges for school lunches amid national food-supply shortage

Published: Sep. 5, 2021 at 9:03 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Schools in the Ozarks and all around the nation are experiencing a food-supply shortage.

The Wall Street Journal reported shrinking menu options, supply chain delays and other factors contributing to the shortage in a July 2021 report. A similar problem has presented itself for schools around southwest Missouri.

Springfield Public Schools and the Bolivar School District tell KY3 they have experienced shortages before, but nothing to the extent of this school year.

“We are experiencing a shortage of chicken, beef and paper products,” said Kim Keller director of nutritional services for Springfield Public Schools. “The Springfield market is our our main vendor for items, and we’ve met with them last week and discussed if something is out, what a good alternative would be for that item.”

The food-supply shortage is due to multiple factors, including a shortage in truck drivers, companies discontinuing certain items due to profit value and workers turning to careers in other areas.

Both school districts have had no trouble finding alternatives and improvising their way through the supply shortages so far, but the menu staples are changing.

“We are just trying to think outside the box and figure out how we can ensure that students have choices every single day,” said Keller. “We haven’t had any problem with that.”

“Supply by a demand on some of our products started even before that. We process our commodities sent to us in February,” said Anna Williams with the Bolivar School District. “Some of our brokers have just not been able to get the products they need to produce, though so it has limited some of our favorite foods that we like.”

Springfield Public Schools says they also are experiencing the issues due to companies only wanting to sell items with a higher markup for product and trucks showing up on time with product.

“They are going to look at the products that you know has a higher profit or a higher value on them for them the higher return,” said Keller. “Some items that were used that used to be available to us are not this year, so we just have to adjust and be flexible,” said Keller.

The Bolivar School District expressed that another issue they are experiencing is delays with their new trucking company and warehouse setup.

“Biggest thing is just a commodities are not going to be delivered until October. We missed our August and September delivery because of some issues with our trucking company and warehouse setup,” said Williams.

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