In Charlotte, North Carolina, school districts are saying they've been forced to make last-minute adjustments to menu items for school lunches due to supply chain shortages.
"Sometimes we don't know when an item is going to be short until it's time to receive it. One of the things we have to quickly do is modify the menu," said Tracy Dixon, Richland One Schools' director of nutrition services in Richland County, South Carolina, according to WCNC Charlotte.
Additionally, school officials in Lancaster County, South Carolina, say food shortages have been occurring since the start of the school year. Due to the scarcity, schools have been forced to make menu changes and substitutions, and limit the number of entrees offered to middle and high school students.
Will Adams, CEO of the nonprofit organization Team True Blue, said: "It's very concerning to me. If a child is hungry, they're not going to be focused on learning."
Adams, who works with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, said the scarcity has led to limiting portion sizes so that each child has enough to eat.
"We're actually hearing," Adams said, "that some of the schools are starting to scale back the portions they give the child because they want to make sure there's enough for every child to have lunch."
In light of the shortages, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it will offer $1.5 billion for school nutrition.
"Since the start of the public health crisis," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, "school nutrition professionals have worked tirelessly to continue to serve nutritious meals. USDA has remained steadfast in its commitment to getting them the support they need to successfully operate meal programs amidst changing circumstances."
The funding for school nutrition is part of a $3 billion comprehensive plan that also includes funding to combat animal disease prevention and market disruption relief.
"American agriculture currently faces unprecedented challenges on multiple fronts," Vilsack added. "The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every stage of our food supply chain, from commodity production through processing and delivery.
''Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners increasingly experience the impacts of climate change as severe storms, floods, drought and wildfire events damage their operations and impact their livelihoods.
''We know these challenges will continue into 2022, and others may emerge. Tackling these challenges head-on better positions USDA to respond in the future as new challenges emerge."
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