KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A shortage of delivery drivers coupled with supply chain and shipping issues are causing headaches for school districts across the country.
At least one district in the St. Louis area told parents to start packing lunches for their children because the district can’t get enough food to serve meals.
Here in Kansas City, districts say they are dealing with shortages and delivery issues, and many say they’ve had to scramble or shift menus to feed students.
“We order our food about 2 weeks out, so if we get shorted, like we shorted last week and the week before, we are about 2 weeks away from running out of food here and there,” said Jenna Knuth, director of food and nutrition services for North Kansas City Schools. “So we pick up the phone and call distributors.”
Knuth stressed that kids can’t learn on empty stomachs, making it critical that they get food in.
North Kansas City isn’t the only district struggling. Here’s where local districts stand when it comes to supply and demand:
KANSAS SCHOOL DISTRICTS
The Blue Valley School District acknowledged it’s had some difficulty getting food orders, but said that by making an occasional substitution, it’s been able to manage its food supply and feed all of its students.
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS
In Kansas City, Kansas, the school district says it is juggling the menu as it deals with the impact of food delivery issues.
At this point the district said it has successfully worked to get the food it needs from other suppliers. The scramble has not impacted breakfasts or lunches served to thousands of students daily.
The Lawrence School District acknowledges the national food supply chain shortages, but said it is not having any difficulty feeding its students.
Like many districts across the country, the Olathe School district said it is also experiencing shortages. According to the district, supply chain issues are making it challenging to obtain the products it needs for school menus.
The district said its food service department is in contact with vendors and has been able to adjust and adapt and make changes to school menus based on availability. At this point, the district said it has not had issues getting enough food to feed it students.
MISSOURI SCHOOL DISTRICTS
The Belton School District emailed parents Thursday to notify them about the food issues it is experiencing because of supply chain issues and a shortage of delivery drivers.
The email asks parents to check menus daily to determine whether to pack a lunch for their children. The district said the shortages will cause menus to change often, but the district said it will not impact students from getting a free breakfast and lunch daily.
Early warning and advanced planning is how the Fort Osage district said it was able to avoid food shortages this year. The district said its supplier notified it of potential shortages over the summer. Because of the early notice, Fort Osage said it was able to stock up on supplies.
While it’s experienced shortages in orders over the past week, the said its stockpile means that it’s not an issue.
The Gardner Edgerton School District says it is not having food supply issues at this time.
Canceled deliveries and shortages of some items is what the Hickman Mills School District said it was facing. So far, the district says the issues are not impacting impacting feeding students.
The district says its nutrition services director is working closely with local suppliers, sometimes almost hourly, to get the latest information on the expected delays. By doing that, the district says it can make adjustments as early, and as often, as needed.
The Independence School District said it hasn’t had issues getting food. According to the district’s Nutrition Services a food delivery truck was delayed last week, but it didn’t impact service and didn’t have anything to do with food shortages that other districts are reporting.
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
The Kansas City, Missouri School District said it is not having any issues with it’s food suppliers or feeding students this year.
The Lee’s Summit School District said it is not impacted by food shortages at this time.
Water bottles have been added to the supply list in the Liberty School District after it reports having issues getting mike and juice for students.
The district notified families earlier this week about the challenges and explained the situation.
In the email, the district encouraged families to sent their students to school with water bottles in case other beverages aren’t available to serve with meals.
The district also said it would have water available for students during breakfast and lunch times.
NORTH KANSAS CITY
The North Kansas City School District is scrambling after losing two food distributors.
One of the district’s major food suppliers dropped the district as a customer because it couldn’t fill the orders. The district said another company decided to get out of the business because of issues with food supply shortages.
The district said it is now relying on one large company and several smaller ones to deliver enough food to feed more than 21,000 students.
The district notified parents that the supply issues may impact students in the following ways:
- Menu substitutions will be common based on availability of food.
- The district may run out of a certain selection although the goal is for students at the end of lunch periods to have the same options as the children who eat earlier in the day.
The district said it is doing everything it can to improve current circumstances, and even offered to transport the food from distributors to the district.
Food and drink shortages are plaguing Ray-Pec School District’s cafeterias. The district said it is monitoring the challenges and is navigating the issue to this point.
FOX4 contacted districts in the Kansas City metro on Thursday and will update this story with other districts as they reply to our questions.