What’s for lunch? Schools left scrambling as supply orders go unfulfilled

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Supply chain issues have impacted everything from cans to electronics. The newest victim: school lunches.

It’s a guessing game at schools across the country as to what lunch will be as supply orders continue to go unfulfilled.

“We don’t know what we’ll get week to week. Several days last week we worried about filling menus for this current week and that’s stressful,” said Brant Brown, Southwest Allen County Schools Food Services Director.

WANE 15 reached out to a number of school districts in northeast Indiana. Here are the responses we received:

Fort Wayne Community Schools:

FWCS has experienced shortages of food products since the spring of 2020 when supplies where running low across the country. Since the start of the school year, the shortages have only increased because of issues in various parts of the supply chain. Students and parents have been patient as menus have changed frequently. We are doing our best to continue to provide a variety of healthy meal options to students and understand when they are disappointed that some of their favorite items may temporarily be unavailable.

East Allen County Schools:

Yes, we are experiencing the same challenges with distribution and food supply. We are unable to predict what items will become available and the exact duration of the supply chain issues we are experiencing. Although our offerings may not align exactly with what is shown on the menu, we will continue to provide all EACS students with a well-balanced meal.

Northwest Allen County Schools:

The supply chain has been strained due to the pandemic, and shortages in the availability of popular food items have been occurring and unfortunately will likely continue.

We may need to adjust some breakfast and lunch menus, meaning we may make substitutions on planned menu items. We will continue receiving deliveries; however, sometimes the quantity or exact items we receive may be different than what was ordered. As a result, we could see shortages in items such as peanut butter uncrustables among other popular lunch choices. The NACS Food Service Department has no way of predicting what will or will not be delivered, so we ask that you be patient with us and explain this challenge to your child.

We are fortunate to have great relationships with our food supply vendors, which has helped us avoid some of the challenges other districts have already faced. We are preparing alternate options in place of existing menu items, so we can maintain our nutritional guidelines, but this is new territory for us. We apologize for any inconveniences this may cause you and your child. If you child becomes unsatisfied with the menu offerings, we ask that you consider packing lunch until we get beyond the limitations that may occur because of these supply chain interruptions.

Please know that we remain dedicated to your child’s nourishment, and we will continue seeking other ways to provide the quality food items you have come to expect from NACS. In the meantime, we appreciate your understanding, patience, and help communicating with your child.

Southwest Allen County Schools:

Our Food Service Department has recently been experiencing product shortages and limited availability of many products from our vendors. This has become a widespread problem in the food service industry, but it has hit school food service especially hard due to the limited menu options we are allowed to provide. We have been working to find suitable replacements, but because of the high demand nationwide, many products are simply unavailable.

Please understand that our published menus may change on a day-to-day basis, with little available lead time as we are unsure of produce availability.

Manchester Community Schools:

Our cafeteria staff works tirelessly to provide the best possible meals for our students.  Unfortunately, due to supply and distribution issues, our vendors have been unable to fill nearly half of our ordered items.

Our staff continues to search out alternative items and vendors, but some choices are just not available at the times that we need them.  

I assure you that we are committed to providing quality meals for our students.  In fact, we have already started making more meals from scratch, which is more time consuming and labor intensive.  However, due to the unpredictable supply shortages, what we serve won’t always align with what is on the menu.

I want to thank Becky Landes and the entire cafeteria staff for going above and beyond to work through these shortages.  I also appreciate your understanding and support on this issue.

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