Local schools may see turn in food distribution shortage

Posted 10/6/21

Maries County R-2 School District’s Oppa! Nutritional Services Director Allie Plassmeyer said on Tuesday that the food distribution shortage has eased over the past three weeks.

“We …

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Local schools may see turn in food distribution shortage

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Maries County R-2 School District’s Oppa! Nutritional Services Director Allie Plassmeyer said on Tuesday that the food distribution shortage has eased over the past three weeks.

“We have been getting a consistent truck for the last couple of weeks, so right now everything is on the up-and-up to go back to normal,” Plassmeyer said.

Opaa! Is the meal provider that has a contract with the Maries R-2 School district for breakfast and lunch. The service posted a notice on Aug. 30 to the MariesR-2.org webpage that “delivery issues” with breakfast and lunch items would be affected for up to six weeks. 

Reasons for the delay in delivery were listed: the food distribution company they contract with was having a driver shortage and the companies they contract with for food purchasing were having a distribution shortage due to employee shortages around the country.

“Opaa! Is working very hard to make sure our students have a lunch and breakfast option each day,” according to the Aug. 30 announcement. “We do not have a food shortage — but are having issues with the distribution and delivery of menu options ordered.”

The district announcement asked that students and staff be mindful that the menu may change on short notice.

“What this means for our students is that there will be one choice for breakfast each morning,” the announcement continued. “Cereal will only be offered twice a week rather than four days a week. This also means that middle school and high school students will not have an ala carte option available. Salads will not be offered daily.”

While the announcement said the menu would be affected for up to six weeks, Plassmeyer added Tuesday that no one knew what to expect at the time of the announcement.

“I don’t think anyone had an idea of how it would affect schools individually,” she said.

Lori Angell, nutritional services director for the Gasconade County R-2 School District, said Monday that the food distribution shortage that began in August has resulted in some creative meal planning this school year, but hopefully will get back to normal soon.

“We have been having a few issues, thankfully nothing too drastic as yet,” Angell said via email on Monday.

Angell was notified by her food distributors around the third week of school (mid September) that they would not be delivering her order that week due to their difficulty getting product, shortage of employees, and other issues.

“We did a bid with about four different vendors at the end of the previous school year and I always go with the top two,” Angell said. “I had received word during summer school that our commodity truck would not be coming until October, which meant no delivery in August and September, so I knew that if no schools were getting their commodity trucks, our weekly grocery vendors would be struggling to meet everyone’s needs.”

As a result, she began stocking up, ordering several items that the district uses regularly to be delivered over the summer and have on-hand. Being able to avoid ordering those items for a few weeks helped.

“But when you feed the number of folks we do, it doesn’t take long to empty a freezer,” Angell said. “I have been keeping a close eye on our building inventories and we have been using what we can. I told the staff we are going to have to get creative.”

The nutritional services department has requested that students and staff be patient with them, as they are doing the best they can.

“We are having several menu changes, some very last minute, due to counts being high and possibly only getting a partial amount of what I order,” Angell said. “For instance, if I have enough for students and not for a particular item, the students get what is on the menu and the staff will get something else.”

Angell said she hopes the situation will change soon and go back to normal.

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