Shortages affect Yutan lunches

As students walk through the lunch line this year, they may notice some differences with last-minute menu changes and some food items missing.

Students notice a new sign when getting water at lunch. This is one of the many things that have changed due to supply issues. (Libby Winn)

“Everything is being delayed by weeks, possibly months out. And there’s things that we may get in and things that we may not get in, and we won’t know until the last minute,” elementary kitchen staff member Darla Miller said.

With items not being shipped in, the menus for lunches are being affected because of the workers not knowing when the foods they need will get in.

“A lot of things that we have menu-ed for the month we are having to change because we won’t know until a few days ahead of time whether that product can come in or not,” Miller said.

There is a lack of some foods like raw products.

“We have had a few boxes that have come in, and we let our distributor know, but it was moldy or the bananas were overripe because they were picked too soon,” Food Service Director Mary Slepicka said. “The other problem they’re having with raw products is they can’t get a hold of chicken, beef, whatever, to make grilled chicken breast and chicken nuggets.”

Several food items haven’t been able to be shipped in because of shipping delays, not enough truck drivers and employees and low stock numbers.

“I was supposed to have pepperoni pizza at the elementary, and it was all out of stock,” Slepicka said.

Freshman Reagan Wilson puts food from the salad bar onto her tray at lunch. Students noticed less salad bar options this week due to supply chain issues. (Libby Winn)

Since foods aren’t able to come in, substitutions have had to be made.

“For one preschool snack, we ordered Chex Mix, and we got in Flaming Hot Cheetos instead…So we had to find something else for the preschoolers to have,” Miller said.

Another large component that has changed is prices when food is ordered.

“I hadn’t really noticed until about a month ago—it was more incremental increases that were little—and all of a sudden my lunch bill for both buildings jumped up about $500 a week,” Slepicka said.

The issues that are arising are creating more complications for schools and their lunch programs. 

“I hope that this ends soon…It’s just a lot of hassle,” Miller said.

Even though some items might not get shipped in, Slepicka said Yutan is fortunate compared to other schools.

“We’re very blessed right now that we have not had many issues as far as getting distribution with our food,” Slepicka said.