Your public school kid's lunch might be served on a pizza slice box. Here's why
American public school students are likely eating a lot more meals at school this year.
School food has been free for lower-income kids and some entire districts in the past, and it has been available for purchase to other kids, sometimes at a reduced cost. School districts are responsible for their own programs and are then reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), primarily for the subsidized meals. This year, because of the pandemic, meals are free to all students, and the USDA is theoretically picking up the cost But shortages are crimping the program and costs are rising.
These meals include breakfast and lunch, and in some districts, dinner.
But labor issues are making that sustenance hard to find, triggering the worst supply chain headaches schools have faced in decades. Sourcing is a nightmare. Some staples of school dining, like chicken, can be hard to come by, and your kid's lunch might have to be served on a plastic nacho tray lid, according to nutritionists and school district officials NPR interviewed.
They say labor is the biggest issue. Food processing plants don't always have enough workers to keep production humming, trucking companies don't have all the drivers they need to haul food from factories, and companies that supply schools can't fully staff their warehouses.