Like in all industries, school nutrition directors are facing far-reaching supply chain issues that are impacting their abilities to serve students. In fact, according to the School Nutrition Association's 2021 Supply Chain Survey, more than 98 percent of districts and programs reported shortages or difficulty procuring menu items, supplies, packaging, and more.
Coupling this trend with current labor shortages (nearly 95 percent of respondents reported staff shortages as a major challenge) and financial hurdles (only half of the schools report reimbursement rates being sufficient for covering costs of service during the pandemic) lead to challenging times for school nutrition directors.
When there's a challenge, there's also an opportunity though. Here are several things school nutrition directors can consider to enhance service during a global supply chain shortage.
No matter what, school nutrition directors will continue to serve healthy meals to our students. That's what they do. And while scrambling to meet demands with current vendors might be a challenge, it's also an opportunity to search for new vendors who can help provide needed ingredients, supplies, or equipment. For staff, consider ways to ease the burdens on existing employees by streamlining processes or utilizing more efficient systems and equipment.
In many school districts, April and May are great times to start planning for upgrades to the 2022-23 school year. Consider new plans for cafeterias and serving lines now, and those upgrades can be demonstrated and installed in the early summer. This puts school nutrition directors on track for the first day of school later in the summer with ample time to make adjustments or to consider custom designs.
Challenging times are also the perfect times for making changes to how service is delivered. For so many districts across the country, moving meals outside or to the classroom has been a pivotal part of keeping kids as safe as possible, minimizing the risks of potential exposure during the pandemic. But serving breakfast to students in the classroom, for example, is also a great way to promote nutritional wellbeing after a global pandemic. With this, many schools are adopting mobile serving methods to deliver breakfast and lunch directly to students in the classroom.
Plan ahead with Lakeside and Multiteria to reduce or avoid supply chain delays altogether.
Lakeside can help you avoid the current supply chain shortages with systems manufactured right here in the U.S. From serving lines to mobile food carts, now is the time to start planning for the coming school year.