Alabama schools tell parents to feed their kids breakfast or send snacks due to food shortages 


Parents in multiple Alabama school districts have been warned to give their children breakfast and sent them to school with snacks because supply chain shortages have badly-affected food deliveries.  

District leaders are asking parents to feed their own kids and pack snacks before sending them to class as employees work around-the-clock to keep pantries stocked.

The situation is so dire in the state’s Dothan City Schools district that officials are mulling switching to virtual learning for part of the week to ‘alleviate the stress of our food supplies.’

It’s not a problem unique to Alabama as supply and labor shortages cripple cafeterias throughout the nation. 

A principal in Philadelphia ordered 400 pizzas for her elementary students who otherwise would have gone hungry when a scheduled food order went undelivered last month. In other states, school staffers have resorted to doing their own grocery shopping for students.

‘Essentially what we have here is a perfect storm,’ Stacy Koppen, nutrition services director for Minnesota’s St. Paul Public Schools district, told KSTP.com.  ‘We have a shortage of raw gradients, we have a shortage of people in the workforce, at the same time everyone needs more of everything.’ 

Preparing meals at Dothan City Schools (such as the one pictured) has been a challenge due to labor and supply shortages, the district's superintendent said

Preparing meals at Dothan City Schools (such as the one pictured) has been a challenge due to labor and supply shortages, the district’s superintendent said

Dothan superintendent Dennis Coe said labor and raw material shortages are to blame affecting the district’s ability to ‘feed our children each day.’

The shortage is causing menu shakeups as districts struggle to make meals with limited ingredients.

 

‘As we prepare to do everything we can, your support would be greatly appreciated by being prepared to send your children to school with their packed lunch,’ Coe said in a letter to parents.

‘As a last resort, we may also ask that you prepare to have virtual/remote school days a few days out of the week to alleviate the stress of our food supplies. Rest assured, breakfast and lunch at no charge will continue to be available to all students.’

Supply chain challenges left Decatur City Schools district without enough food in late August, forcing staffers to drive about 80 miles to Birmingham to buy three truckloads of groceries, the district said.

Alexander City Schools is asking parents to help alleviate the strain by feeding kids breakfast and sending them to school with snacks. It is experiencing supply issues with food vendors

Alexander City Schools is asking parents to help alleviate the strain by feeding kids breakfast and sending them to school with snacks. It is experiencing supply issues with food vendors

Alexander City Schools is asking parents to feed their children breakfast and pack a snack before sending them to school.

The district serves breakfast and lunch daily but said it hasn’t received its food deliveries for weeks because of driver, supply, and warehouse employee shortages.

‘When supplies do arrive, we do not always receive what we have requested; therefore altering the menus,’ the district said in an October 9 Facebook post.

‘This is a situation that is frustrating for you as a parent, and for us as well as our ability to feed our students is being greatly impacted.’

A tortilla and worker shortage forced Scottsboro City Schools to scrap its popular crispito item

A tortilla and worker shortage forced Scottsboro City Schools to scrap its popular crispito item

Meantime, Scottsboro City Schools announced in August that it would stop offering its popular ‘crispitos’ for lunch due to a shortage of tortillas and workers.

‘It will be sad when we serve the last crispito that we have on inventory,’ the district said in a Facebook post. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in April that it would bankroll free lunches for school children across the nation through the current school year, regardless of parental income.

The gesture increased the amount of lunch orders by about 20 percent in Elmore County Schools, according to child nutrition director Cayce Davis.

The USDA is offering free lunches for schools across the nation throughout the curricular year

The USDA is offering free lunches for schools across the nation throughout the curricular year

She said she’s been struggling to keep up with the demand while juggling increased responsibilities brought on by an employee shortage.

‘Right now our goal is to not be the cause of shutting down school,’ Davis told AL.com in late September. ‘I think we’re going to barely skate by offering our meals this week.’

Diced chicken ‘is like gold right now,’ she added.

Satisfying picky eaters and allergy sufferers could be a challenge with schools' limited menu

Satisfying picky eaters and allergy sufferers could be a challenge with schools’ limited menu

Up to 12 million children could lack an adequate supply of food during the pandemic, the department said in a news release.

In Alabama, about 25percent of kids live lack food security, according to No Kid Hungry.

Help could be on the way thanks to the USDA, which said it will spend up to $1.5billion to help schools fend off food disruptions.

Numerous Alabama school districts, including Scottsboro, are being effected by the issue

Numerous Alabama school districts, including Scottsboro, are being effected by the issue

The Alabama State Department of Education said the local situation is improving.

‘There’s not a school system in the state that’s without food or in a situation where they’re worried that if a truck doesn’t show up in the next day or two then they won’t have food for their students,’ department of education spokesperson Michael Sibley told WSFA12 last week.

‘No one is in that kind of dire situation right now.’

 Alabama is not alone.

In Missouri, where even acquiring paper plates has been a challenge, school staffers have resorted to buying their own groceries at stores such as Sam’s Club.

‘It’s just been kind of a nightmare,’ Shawndra Taylor said, Eldron School District’s food services director, told the Missouri Independent.

Last month, some students went unfed at a Philadelphia elementary school after due to staff shortages within the Philadelphia School District, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Mitchell elementary principal Stephanie Andrewlevich said she took matters into her own hands after learning no food would be served September 23.

‘As soon as stores opened, I ordered pizza for 400 students to attempt lunch service,’ Andrewlevich said in a letter obtained by the Inquirer. ‘Some of the pizzas arrived and were served to students, some have not arrived as of 2:15 p.m. and students were not served.’



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