Kansas City-area school districts warn of food shortages
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Hickman Mills School District is the latest in the Kansas City subway to warn families about problems it may have feeding children in the weeks to come.
Hickman Mills said one of his suppliers informed the district that he would be abandoning the district in November. The district said it was because the supplier was struggling to find employees and truck drivers.
“Our main supplier was Kohl Wholesale, and we learned on Friday that they were giving us notice of termination. These are the last of the Big 3 here in Kansas City, ”said Grennan Sims, director of nutrition services for Hickman Mills.
The school districts of North Kansas City, Independence, Park Hill and Liberty have also been affected by this provider.
Districts in the state of Missouri were already scrambling to feed students after Missouri informed them this summer that schools would not be receiving expected orders of fruits, vegetables, meat and staples.
In a letter to parents, Hickman Mills said he was working to find a new food vendor.
Sims said that as long as this food crisis continues, she will spare no effort to find food for her district, “so we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that no child goes hungry.” .
The district said it is offering each student three free meals each school day because of the number of students who are already entitled to free meals. To help feed the students, the Hickman Mills School District is soliciting the following donations from the community:
- Disposable cutlery (forks, spoons, napkins and hinged foam containers to go)
- Hand sanitizer
- Hand soap
- Individually packaged bulk snacks (e.g., cereal and cereal bars, goldfish)
Other Kansas City-area school districts said they were also facing new problems feeding students due to the same issues.
The Park Hill School District informed families on Wednesday of a supply chain and staff crisis.
In addition to the lack of food from the state of Missouri, the Park Hill food distributor canceled its delivery last week. The distributor told Park Hill that it cannot guarantee delivery of future food orders. Park Hill has said he’s using up his food supply, but realizes it won’t last long. The district said it was looking for other distributors and relied on grocery stores to meet its needs.
Park Hill said it was under pressure to revise its menus and reduce the number of options available. This means that students can see changes in the menus displayed and less choice at meal times.
The district also has 19 positions open among its nutrition service staff and says this is making the problem worse.
NORTHERN KANSAS CITY
By Friday, the three largest distributors that handled food for the North Kansas City school district had abandoned it. The district said it relies on a number of small businesses to help feed its 16,000 students a day.
In a letter to parents, the district warned that the current situation is not sustainable.
Currently, the North Kansas City School District said it is working with local grocery stores and retailers such as Sam’s and Costco to obtain food. The district has also been in contact with Missouri leaders and national organizations in an effort to continue to feed the students.
The district has warned families that there will be changes for the foreseeable future, including:
- Choice of limited menus that differ significantly from published menus
- The possibilities to purchase a la carte items and additional items may be limited
- Water will still be available to students but the district asks students to bring bottled water to school
- Consider sending a packed lunch with the students, especially if your child has food allergies
All three districts said they realize the situation is not ideal for families, but appreciate the patience and flexibility they get from families during this time.
The Liberty School District said it has continued to make substitutions and is also trying to find food from other sources.
“It requires quick thinking on the fly and navigating how to continue,” said Dallas Ackerman, spokesperson for Liberty Public Schools.
The district has a contract with Minsky’s Pizza for delivery once a week. But the neighborhood said Liberty Restaurant wanted to do more.
“Since all of this happened, over the last few weeks they’ve stepped up and provided food, pizza to our high school kids five days a week,” Ackerman said.
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