PUNXSUTAWNEY — Punxsutawney Area School District Cafeteria Director Lindsay Phillips shared a letter with the district community last week regarding ongoing issues with the food supply chain, and asked parents to be understanding of possible last minute menu changes.
Phillips said the main food vendor the district uses is US Foods, then there are others the school gets specific products from. The school has its contracts for food set up through PRSSD, which is its bid group.
She said PRSSD gave the school a heads up at the beginning of the year to prepare for food shortages. As the year has continued, she said the shortages of certain items has become more and more noticeable in the food deliveries.
“As the school year went on, we started to notice more and more items going out of stock,” Phillips said.
She has been told the biggest reason for these shortages is because US Foods is understaffed, and they are having trouble filling all of their orders and deliveries.
“We utilized Stello Foods in town and some other local suppliers. We just had to make small changes,” Phillips said. “You just have to be smart about it.”
She explained that she has found substitutes for different items as they have gone out of stock. She might not get the exact food item she wanted, like breadsticks, but said she can substitute something like rolls as an example.
She said last week, when the district issued the letter, was the worst week they’ve had so far with food shortages. Two weeks ago, they got no truck at all from US Foods, but then did receive a delivery last week, but were limited on how much they could order.
According to Phillips, PRSSD has been in constant communication with them about the food deliveries and telling them anytime there is a problem. She said this has been helpful in planning ahead with the cafeteria staff at the schools.
“We’ve had major communication with head cooks and staff on any changes. A lot of communication between me and the staff,” Phillips said.
She said the shortages have not impacted any dietary restrictions or accommodations the school has for students.
This week, the school was not restricted on what they could order, but were asked by the food vendor to be conservative. She said it seems they are starting to come out the other side of the issues, but appreciated the district families’ patience as the school navigates the situation.