School Cafeterias Facing Food and Materials Shortages

Oct. 1, 2021
U.S. schools are having problems obtaining the foods and other materials they need for student meals.

U.S. schools are having problems obtaining the foods and other materials they need for student meals, especially with the higher nutritional standards of recent years.

About two-thirds of school meal program directors in the U.S. reported in a survey to the School Nutrition Association that they had “serious concerns” about getting the menu items they needed, according to the Florida Courier.

Shortages include not only items like whole-grain hamburger buns and pizza crusts, but paper and plastic for packaging.

"We don't know week to week if we're gonna be able to get the food that we ordered," a foodservice director in a school district in Burlington, Wash., told KING-TV news. “It isn't just chicken nuggets. They're having a hard time getting supplies like plastic, paper bags and boxes because of labor shortages.”

The tension is worsened because of the requirements of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which raised the nutritional standards for students’ meals. Whole-grain, low-sodium, low-fat and other healthier foods have sometimes been harder to find than regular items.

The USDA, which administers the school meals program, has granted several waivers from the higher nutritional standards of the 2010 act, with the latest one coming Sept. 15.

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