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WV school meal programs feel impact of national supply chain issue

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Some West Virginia school districts are struggling to serve lunches amid an ongoing supply chain issue nationwide.

Blaine Hess

In Jackson County Schools, Superintendent Blaine Hess said in recent days they’ve been dealing with food shortages and fewer deliveries.

“Some of the items are just not available,” Hess told MetroNews affiliate WMOV Radio in Ravenswood.

Pork, bacon, sausage, chicken and breakfast cereal are just some of the items they’ve had trouble receiving.

The low supply is now impacting future meal planning, Hess said.

“It causes some havoc with our posted menus. We usually plan those out a month in advance, so there are some last minute changes based on an availability of supplies,” he said.

Hess said they’ve have had to rework breakfast and lunch options for students depending on what deliveries they get.

“It’s almost like a roulette game where you order things and then you’re kind of surprised at what comes in when the truck arrives,” he said.

Hess said the school district is still able to meet all criteria for their national lunch program, but now they have to meet those needs with different products.

Crescent Gallagher

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is monitoring the situation. Spokesperson Crescent Gallagher told MetroNews they have received reports of some empty shelves in the state.

“We’re always concerned, especially during this pandemic, with food supply,” he said. “When we have national supply chain issues, a lot of times we have to shift our focus to local options for groceries or food.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a backlog at the ports and that’s because there is a shortage of staff to move products from ships to trucks and then onto to the roads and into the stores. As a result, prices are rising on everything from clothes to groceries.

With the holiday season approaches, some fear there won’t be enough turkeys to go around for Thanksgiving, but Gallagher said West Virginia isn’t currently in a place to be concerned about that.

“We’re unaware of any problems as far as turkeys or poultry. West Virginia does produce a lot of poultry in the state. We encourage people, if there’s a shortage at their local grocery store, contact your local farmer and see what they have,” he said.

President Joe Biden has announced commitments from several big companies to ramp up distribution and shipping, but some distributors said they’re facing problems that don’t have quick fixes like limited space in ports.

The issue has also lead to staffing shortages at stores nationwide.

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