Challenging Times (and how we’re handling them)
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that supply chains have been disrupted by the ongoing pandemic. This issue is affecting school nutrition in a profound way. Menus, which previously were planned month(s) in advance are being planned a week out and still substitutions are commonplace. Manufacturers are paring down their items because of labor shortages and increases in manufacturing costs. The cost of some raw ingredients has nearly tripled.
Given the sheer scope of the supply chain disruptions and labor challenges, The School Nutrition Association has communicated with the USDA requesting procurement and meal pattern flexibility and emergency funding among other things. As a result, meals may look slightly different, with more prepackaged, processed food. Throw in the need to comply with Covid safety protocols, eliminating any salad bars, open containers, grab-n-go fruit baskets and transforming the way students commune to eat whether it be distanced, in classrooms, or outside on fields. The trickle down effect reaches everything, even the mundane.
Take for example, yogurt. Yogurt is an integral part of SNP’s breakfast menu. When yogurt manufacturer “A” decreases or ceases production, everyone ordering said product shifts to a different one. Often, supply just cannot keep up with demand. In addition to labor shortages, the production of yogurt is reliant upon the dairy farms to provide milk, produce farms to harvest and supply fruit, a cup, lid, and the transport of everything both to and from the facility. The trucking shortages critically impact delivery of every aspect of food and its production.
School Nutrition Plus is doing our best to anticipate shortages and pivot when necessary. We continue to provide fresh meals on time to our students. Our chefs and staff are working tirelessly to build menus and come up with contingency plans for all of our schools. We appreciate our school partners’ understanding and flexibility more than ever as we continue to navigate the uncertainties. SNP wishes all of our schools and their families a healthy, safe, and fulfilling 2021-2022 school year.