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'It's daily and weekly' School lunches impacted by ongoing supply chain issues

JCPS lunchrooms are having to swap out items because some foods that were on the menu are not arriving on time.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — You might have noticed higher prices for some of the items you normally purchase. The global economy is starting to get back on track, but supply chains have been disrupted.

Whether it’s due to an increase in demand or labor shortages, this supply chain shortage is trickling down into our school cafeterias.

Thursday, Fern Creek Elementary students were supposed to have broccoli as a side option. But it never arrived, so salads were served instead. Even if it isn’t what the kids or parents expected, Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) students will still receive meals, as promised.

“We have to change things on a daily basis, but we manage to get it done,” Cafeteria Manager LeeAnn O’Hara said.  “We are making sure there are two entrees, there are at least two vegetables and one fruit choice.”

JCPS serves 88,000 breakfasts and lunches a day in 147 cafeterias. Sixty percent of students in the district get lunch at school and 40% get breakfast. 

Supply chain issues have affected JCPS before. Trucks haven’t shown up, or other global events like the bird flu several years ago have had an impact. But this time – it’s different. It’s worse.

Multiple supply chain shortages have combined and have very real effects.

“Either they don’t have enough labor to produce the product, or they don’t have enough labor to load the product, or they don’t have the trucks and the labor to ship it to us,” JCPS Assistant Director for School and Community Nutrition Services Dan Ellnor said.

Ellnor doesn’t see an end in sight to the supply chain issues. JCPS has been able to submit waivers to the USDA in order to substitute products. But those waivers end in June of 2022, leaving Ellnor looking ahead to next year, and coming up with a plan if things don’t change.

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Contact reporter Rose McBride at rmcbride@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter. 

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