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Supply chain problems impacting local school district’s food service

Adding to an already stressful school year, a number of local school districts are facing supply chain problems that are leading to menu changes and substitutions for breakfast and lunch.
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 3:51 PM EDT
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SHEPHERD, Mich. (WJRT) - Adding to an already stressful school year, a number of local school districts are facing supply chain problems that are leading to menu changes and substitutions for breakfast and lunch.

Shepherd Public School District is one of these districts. It posted an update last week that said COVID-19 related supply chain issues are making it difficult to get certain items.

“We just did an order and I have probably 50 items that I can’t get mostly commodity… Chicken, pizza, sporks or flatware for the students to use,” said Tina Schafer, director of food services for Shepherd schools. “It’s just a lot.”

Schafer has worked with the school district for over 20 years and what is going on this year is a first for her.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. Never,” she said.

The inability to get certain supplies has led to menu changes and substitutions. Schafer said that students and some parents are not always happy at the changes.

“When a student comes up and they’re expecting this and now today, you have this substitute with that, it can be very upsetting,” she said.

Schafer said this problem is likely from the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that many of the manufacturers that make the products they need were shut down during the pandemic. She said with school starting back up around the country, everyone is going after the same product.

“I don’t blame my distributor or anything,” Schafer said. “It’s the manufacturers themselves. You know that some of them were shut down during COVID and not manufacturing the products.”

Shepherd is not the only school district facing this problem. Last week, Swan Valley schools posted a similar post about supply chain issues.

From SV Nutritional Services Dept: We want to let everyone know that we are experiencing some very major supply chain...

Posted by Swan Valley School District on Tuesday, September 7, 2021

COVID-19 related supply chain issues have also impacted other industries. The widely reported chip shortage halted some production for General Motors and Ford earlier this month.

For Schafer, it’s frustrating. She is trying to provide the best service she can for students and while this school year has already been difficult for staff and families, she asks for everyone to be patient as they work through this.

“Please just remember that we are trying our hardest and doing everything we can but if we can’t get the products, we can’t get the products,” she said. “I don’t know what else to say. We have their student’s best interests at heart.”

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