Local school districts facing supply chain issues in food delivery

We just learned that food shortages and supply chain delays are now impacting school cafeterias.

Districts are scrambling to make sure every student gets a school lunch.

Brian White, Butler Area School District superintendent explained, “it’s a critical service we do provide for our students and families so it is something we are concerned about.”

Butler Area School District is just one of many schools making last minute changes to its lunch menus. Due to the pandemic, different manufacturers are struggling to fill food orders because of labor, transportation and product challenges.

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White said, “The disruption in the supply chain, it’s really manifested itself in changing our menu and really not having many choices we want for all our students because we are serving what we can get, not necessarily what we would like to order.”

We contacted The Nutrition Group, the food service that manages school meals for several local districts including Butler, Shaler, Mars and Aliquippa.

They said this impacts many items, for example hot dog, buns, chicken — even paper products. They reached out to manufacturers and suppliers earlier than usual to give them enough time to fulfill orders on time.

Yet menus are being changed on a weekly basis — and in some cases — daily.

Lisa Dalle Tezze, purchasing director for the nutrition group said, “We do have to make menu changes periodically to make sure we are providing a full complete meal for the students so we may have to go to a different product or look at a different supplier but we are always supplying a complete meal to the students.”

Right now the food service is looking ahead -- continuing to communicate with each manufacturer to find out what products they do and do not have.

Butler’s superintendent told us that the food service is securing additional food to have on hand in case there are more disruptions. This is a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon and may impact the rest of the school year.