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Education

Labor and supply chain shortages cause local schools to change lunch menus

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USDA
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School lunches are feeling the bite of supply chain shortages.

DC Everest Middle School and Newman Catholic Schools are just a few in central Wisconsin forced to change up their menus as shortages stretch on.

"It really scares me that if we don't get this turned around real quick that we're going to have some serious problems," said Jeff Gulan, President of Newman Catholic Schools.

It’s not an area people usually think about when it comes to the supply chain.

"The general labor shortage is really hitting some of our food manufactures as well and they simply don't have enough manpower for the amount of cases of food that they normally would have," said Laticia Baudhuin, Director of School Nutrition at DC Everest.

Schools such as Newman Catholic usually have their meals planned about a month in advance, but now manufacturers are telling them they need to plan ahead even more.

"Now they're telling us to plan eight to ten weeks out and even sometimes further," Gulan said.

Even that isn’t always enough time to guarantee ingredients will be available, which makes it difficult for school cafeterias to meet standards set for school lunches by the USDA.

"All of the sudden we're scrambling to make substitutions to try to get that menu item or recipe to as close as we possibly could from what was originally intended but that's not always the case," Baudhuin said.

While it’s not clear how much longer they’ll be able to substitute, officials say they’re serving more students than ever because of the free expanded lunch program.