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Chambers County School District experiencing food shortages

School districts all over Alabama have been recently affected by food shortages, according to The Alabama State Department of Education. The Chambers County school district is no exception. Labor shortages and supply chain issues related to COVID-19 have been keeping food from being delivered to schools on time.

Donna Pike, interim child nutrition director for Chambers County School District, said that its current food shortages are the worst it’s ever faced. She said that while a few food items have been out all year, things got worse due to a labor shortage over the last few weeks.

“We’re making do,” she said. “We never know from week-to-week what’s going to be marked out. We did not receive trucks the week before last. [Merchants Foodservices] sent trucks to most of the schools last week. And we’ve got word that they’re going to send everything this week.”

Pike said Chambers County schools had enough food in stock to be able to compensate for the shortages. Schools have had no choice but to change their menus. Pike said they currently have enough produce, bread and milk.

“Other school systems are really facing some hardships,” she said. “It’s what I’ve read and what I see on the news. We have not gotten into that kind of predicament.”

Pike said Chambers County schools have managed to feed students all the same food groups as usual. As an example of how they’ve had to compensate for shortages, she said that for the school system’s breakfast program, schools had to serve more whole fruit because they didn’t have fruit juices.

“They have to have a cup of fruit,” she said. “And normally, we send a 4-ounce juice and then a 4-ounce cup of fruit.”

Pike said it’s harder to get meat than before because of shortages within meat processing.

She said that school sites tell visitors that menus are subject to change.

“We’ve kept the schools up with what’s going on, so they all know ahead of time what’s happening,” she said.

During a school board meeting last week, Superintendent Casey Chambley said the school system was dealing with multiple types of shortages.

“We are in a situation now that we are dealing with not only teacher shortages and sub shortages,” he said. “We’re dealing with bus driver shortages, we’re dealing with trucking shortages, we’re dealing with food shortages. As I normally do when we talk about COVID and those issues, one thing that I would ask our parents to do and our community — please offer our staff some grace during these times.”