School districts seeing impacts of food supply issues

With the nation’s food supply chain negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s hard to find some items on store shelves, and schools are dealing with the same issue when it comes to their food service programs. Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — With the nation’s food supply chain negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s hard to find some items on store shelves, and schools are dealing with the same issue when it comes to their food service programs.

However, Massena Central School Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said, the district is doing well under the circumstances, developing menus and recipes based on product availability.

“That means the uniformity of the daily elementary and middle school menus may vary from school to school,” Mr. Brady said. “This also means that menus could change the day of, and sometimes multiple times due to product availability.”

Mr. Brady said the best way to keep up with changing menus is to visit the Food Services link on the district’s website, www.mcs.k12.ny.us.

He said the district works with its food supplier, Renzi Foodservice, to find alternatives to items that might not be available.

“Renzi has been very good with substituting the items that they’re not able to get because there is a supply issue as we’re seeing just about everywhere with different items during the pandemic,” he said. “There are shortages in some foods, particularly at breakfast. We work closely with our supplier, Renzi. They’ve been excellent in providing alternatives. It sounds like we’re in better shape than many.”

In place of whole grain bread, for instance, Mr. Brady said Renzi might provide zucchini bread or banana bread. And, while some students were reluctant to try the zucchini bread, he said it’s starting to catch on.

He said the U.S. Department of Agriculture understands the situation at schools as it relates to the department’s guidelines for providing healthy foods in school cafeterias.

“The USDA has been flexible understanding that there is a shortage and allowing us to make these substitutions,” Mr. Brady said.

He said that while the district is substituting products and menu items, it is not running out of food, although students may not get their first choice or favorite menu items during the shortage.

“We have other options available,” he said.

The School Nutrition Association has made a video to better inform school communities on the current issues districts are facing across the state and country. View the video at wdt.me/SchoolNutrition.

The School Nutrition Association is a national, nonprofit professional organization representing more than 50,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. Recognized as the authority on school nutrition, SNA has been advancing the availability, quality and acceptance of school nutrition programs as an integral part of education since 1946.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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