Supply Chain Disruptions Wreak Havoc on School Cafeterias Nationwide

The unpredictable menu changes at BHS are affecting students and lunch staff alike

The cafeteria at school is running out of food. There are about 2,000 students and staff that attend BHS five days a week, and they expect to be fed. They also expect to be fed what is shown on the menu beforehand.

The problem is, there isn’t enough food to go around. Students are still getting food each day, but it frequently isn’t the food advertised on the monthly menu. By D-Lunch many students receive an improvised menu based on whatever the cafeteria has available. During one lunch period, students went from receiving chicken patties on buns, to chicken patties on wheat bread, to hamburgers. 

Nutrition Services Director Kim Hinrichs said that this issue is occuring in school cafeterias nationwide due to supply chain disruptions. Hinrichs is in charge of ordering and planning all meals in the BHM district.

“The shortages of certain items are due to the manufacturers not being able to keep up with supply and demand,” Hinrichs said. “Trucking issues, food production issues and labor shortages all play a part. This is a nationwide problem for all businesses, not just schools. Just as families had to make substitutions on grocery lists last year, schools will have to make some last-minute changes to our regular menus, based on availability.”

According to a survey published on July 8, 97% of school nutrition directors reported serious concerns about supply-chain. This problem had first started in 2020, when the first wave of COVID 19 hit, and many people were laid-off or fired. This included people that worked on manufacturing, people who helped to produce the food for local school districts, and also a large number of truck drivers that were responsible for delivering it. A district in St. Paul even resorted to freezing grilled cheese sandwiches, for preparation if they run out of food completely.

Because of all these people being fired or laid-off, the school food chain shattered, and many schools are unable to get enough meals for every student in the school. The school district sent out an email about the shortages in September and clarified that they don’t know any clear date or time when this food shortage will end. 

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