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Holt Public Schools limits lunch options due to nationwide food shortage

Holt Public Schools food court
Posted at 6:25 PM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 07:58:40-04

LANSING, Mich. — Holt Public School sent an email to parents last week saying lunch was going look different for elementary and middle school students. The reason: a nationwide food shortage.

The district had typically offered two lunch option. In most schools, it's now offering just one.

"Right now the one entree choice is for our elementary school buildings, which is K-4. And then our two middle school buildings, which are 5 and 6," said Even Robertson, the district's director of food services.

As for the junior and high school buildings, the change won't affect them yet.

"We change the amount that we serve for the upper levels to acknowledge the fact that these students do have sports after school and may have a job after school, too," Robertson said.

Robertson wants people to understand that this is not a school budgeting issue or about the district not ordering enough food.

"We've always dealt with shortages in the past, however, they've been limited to like maybe one or two items," he said

But, now, the number has gone up.

"In a typical order that may have, let's say, 100 cases, we're now seeing were up to 40 or 50 cases are not coming on the trucks now," he said.

The shortage isn’t limited to food. Cutlery and trays are being added to the list. Robertson tells me the school is working on finding a new supplier and adapting the menu.

"Instead of serving a hot steamed vegetable, we're trying to move more towards a raw veggie. So like a celery stick that you just need a hand for," Robertson said.

David Closs, a supply chain management professor at Michigan State University, says we may be dealing with this shortage for a while because there's a shortage of executive talent and operational talent and because baby boomers are retiring from the industry. He believes this may be a problem that lasts well into next year.

"Many of the people that are working in those environments are older. And because of COVID, they don't want to go in. And so that means production is short, and transportation is short," Closs said.

Robertson said the school district is going to send out a menu for the following week every Friday so parents can know in advance.

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