ATHENS, Ala. — Food delivery shortages in Alabama schools have the state Child Nutrition Program director concerned for districts.
“You have a shortage of product to be able to take off the truck and take in to schools, and then you have a shortage of those putting it on the drive, and then the drivers delivering it to the schools,” CNP Director Angelice Lowe said.
The good news for North Alabama students is that there are no widespread reports of missed meals, but there are local concerns as the school year unfolds.
“It’s just stressful times,” Athens CNP Director Tandy Blackwell said. “Each week we’re hopeful that we’re going to receive (food distributor) trucks. We’re hopeful. We try to plan ahead as much as we can. But even still we have to make substitutions.”
It’s making for fewer conventional food options and in some cases utensils, for those who eat from the cafeteria lines.
“One week forks were out,” Blackwell said. “One week it was trays.”
“I wake up at nights worrying about just making sure that we’re able to provide some sort of meal to our children,” Lowe said.
Lowe said she has overseen supply issues in the past, but not along with truck drivers, food supply, and labor in all aspects of the state’s school food industry.
“As long as we have a public health crisis, I don’t foresee an end to this issue,” Lowe said. “We’ve got to get the workforce back to where it was pre-COVID.”
Lowe says the state is waiting on $1.5 billion in aid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to mitigate costs for supply chain issues throughout the state.