Some schools across the state are experiencing issues with their food services. A shortage of warehouse workers and truck drivers is forcing vendors to drop school food service programs.
Barbara Shaw, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)) food and nutrition services coordinator, said since there aren't enough workers, there isn't a way to get the food to the schools.
"A lot of the distributors are dropping their agreements with the school districts, which is making an immediate impact on the schools being able to then find an alternative source," Shaw said. "So they are going to experience issues with not being able to get their weekly deliveries."
Shaw said schools are struggling to find an alternative source given that so many distributors are struggling. She said some schools have to turn to local grocery stores or other distributors.
"For small schools, they could go to a local grocery store, or work with a local HyVee or Sam's Club to get these items temporarily," Shaw said. "But when you're talking about a larger school district that's feeding thousands of kids a day, they can't just go to the grocery store every day. So they become a little bit more severe, a little bit more higher risk of running out of food."
Director of Food Service at Boonville School District Glenda Curnutte said they haven't received food deliveries, so their district is using frozen food from their warehouse or buying from local grocery stores.
"We're just being creative with what we have," Curnutte said.
Dana Doerhoff, Jefferson City Schools director of nutrition services, said their district is not facing a food shortage, but is seeing limitations on what foods they are able to purchase.
"An example is that tacos were on the menu at elementary schools, but because we did not receive the tortillas or chips, the kitchens prepared something else with ground beef, such as spaghetti," Doerhoff said.
In a letter to JC Schools families, the Nutrition Department said students will still be able to choose between hot and cold items, "until the supply issues are resolved, the meals served for breakfast and lunch may be subject to change pending availability of certain food items and may vary from the posted menus."
Mallory McGowin, DESE chief communications officer, said food distributors are also affected by supply-chain shortages, which causes an issue for getting enough pallets and boxes to store food.
"Additionally, nationwide disruptions are due to the increase in market prices," McGowin said. "Schools are not able to pay these higher prices and are therefore forced to make substitutions."