Des Moines Public Schools dealing with cafeteria shortages due to COVID

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines Public Schools says it is dealing with cafeteria shortages because of inconsistent shipment delays for food and plastic products due to COVID-19.

“We have seen a significant supply chain shortage from everywhere from paper and plastic products to food supplies all across the district,” said Amanda Miller, director of food and nutrition services at Des Moines Public Schools.

The district is responsible for 32,000 students. It receives supplies from five to six vendors, but the district says manufacturers lack truck drivers, labor, and transportation right now.

“In regards to our vendors, it’s very probable that we would submit an order and half of it would be canceled [because of] food supply and supply chain issues that we see on the manufacturing end, so it’s a real big problem,” said Miller.

Schools across the country are facing cafeteria shortages for items like juice boxes, breaded chicken items, cereal, sliced fruit and plastic products.

“We still are serving whole grain products. We are still serving all the fruits and vegetables that we need to. We still want students to enjoy meals with us,” said Miller.

The United States Department of Agriculture is monitoring the issue concerning food shortages. Earlier in September, the department issued a waiver to allow fiscal action for meal pattern violations related to COVID-19 supply chain disruptions impacting student meals.

In a statement, the USDA tells WHO 13 News:

“The Waiver to Allow Fiscal Action Flexibility for Meal Pattern Violations Related to COVID-19 Supply Chain Disruptions Impacting School Meals in School Year 2021-2022 is set to expire on June 30, 2022. The FNS standard school year is defined as July 1 through June 30 of the following year. However, actual school years are determined by the local district or state. USDA continues to monitor supply chain issues through local schools, state agencies, stakeholders, and industry, and will issue future guidance accordingly.”

United States Department of Agriculture

Des Moines Public Schools is also facing a food service employee shortage. They are offering a hiring bonus for part-time food services positions of $2,000 to compete for workers.

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