Supply chain issues impacting school lunch for some local districts

ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) – Supply chain shortages remain a problem nationwide, and now local school districts are feeling the impact when it comes to feeding students.

Marc Furtado, director of finance and operations for Attleboro Public Schools, told 12 News his food service workers “made gold with thread” and crossed their fingers every day to have enough food to supply. lunch for over 3,000 students.

“It’s a daily challenge,” Furtado said. “Cheese, meat… these things were very rare. Either they’re not available at all, or the companies that store these things and transport them don’t have the availability to deliver things.

He said Attleboro had been forced to replace school lunches and adapt menus based on available food. They’ve even turned to suppliers for the missing items, but that’s a more expensive option, according to Furtado.

“We now have to buy food through normal wholesale channels that serve restaurants and things like that, so our food costs have gone up,” he added.

In Westport, the school district’s business manager Michelle Rapoza said they were facing the same problem and had no choice but to turn to suppliers.

“We’re seeing that something we may have paid $ 25.95 a case for is now $ 77 a case. It’s out of our control, ”Rapoza said.

Although they have fewer mouths to feed than Attleboro – Westport has about 1,400 students across the district – Rapoza said the impact was just as great.

“Your students sometimes come in thinking they’re eating a certain meal, and that’s not what they’re getting,” she said. “It got worse over the past two weeks. So many of our suppliers we deal with, from whom we buy all of our supplies (food and paper), have an important safeguard. “

She said sometimes food deliveries are several days late and delivered after office hours.

“I get emails at 2 am-3am saying, ‘We just loaded our trucks, we should be here tomorrow. We apologize … We are four days late.

Rapoza said they were running out of not only food items, but other supplies as well. She said they used meal trays from an office supply company.

Since it’s only October, she’s worried about what that means for the rest of the school year.

” We worry. We are worried about what will happen, how serious the situation is now, but the worst will be even worse, ”added Rapoza.

Both districts said they had not received an update from distributors on when the situation could improve. However, Attleboro’s situation has improved slightly from the first few weeks of the school year.

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