Disruptions in food distribution make it difficult for students to eat
TAMPA, Florida – The general manager of student nutrition at Hillsborough County schools says they initially ran out of entries.
âChicken was a big deal, we have a lot of chicken on our menu,â said Shani Hall. “And they couldn’t get the chicken in. Then it was the fruit, they couldn’t get the canned fruit.”
Every day, they serve 120,000 lunches, 65,000 breakfasts and 59,000 dinners. Hall says variety shortages continued from there – hitting pizzas, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and even paper products.
“There were times when a manager called me and said, ‘OK, I’m lucky to have food, but I have nothing to put food on,’ he said. she said, “So we had a shortage in our trays, in our bowls and in the things we put food in.”
Their supplier is Gordon Food Service, also used by schools in Sarasota County, which has similar problems.
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âFrom what I hear, the ingredients are there, but it’s more about getting the ingredients to the actual customer, or they don’t have drivers to drive trucks,â said Sara Dan, manager. Sarasota School Food and Nutrition Services. The neighborhood serves more than 31,600 meals a day.
It is a struggle that schools are seeing across the country. In Alabama, one district has asked parents to feed their children for breakfast at home and send them to school with snacks.
In June, some Florida school districts served by distributor US Good Service were told that the company could not provide meals for this school year, leading districts to scramble to find new distributors.
Which makes the leaders of districts like Hillsborough and Sarasota grateful.
âWe are lucky to have food because we know that in other parts of the country they have had to make deliveries once a month,â Dan said. “These are some interesting times happening in our industry right now.”
Hall urges families and students to be patient with the changes. She says even people with food allergies see a lot of repeated meals and less variety.
âWe really had to say to managers, ‘Please be flexible.’ To the parents I talk to, ‘please be flexible with us,’ “she said. “Because our chef, we have a district chef and she watches what happens and she tries to make it work within our existing recipes as much as possible.”
FOX 13 has contacted Gordon Food Services to comment on the changes, but has not received a response.