Getting Answers: how shortages are impacting Westfield public schools’ lunches | News


Western Mass News is getting answers from school officials and suppliers on what is causing the back-up.

WESTFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM)– The Westfield Public Schools is the latest district to put a call out to parents, alerting them of school food shortages.

Western Mass News is getting answers from school officials and suppliers on what is causing the back-up.

Westfield school officials are asking parents for patience as they navigate these challenging times. They said school lunches might be impacted on a school-to-school and a day-to-day basis.

On the lunch menu at one Westfield public school on Thursday: loaded tater tots, a dinner roll and green beans.

“I don’t think it will ever get to a point where we run out of food, I think it will just be that we are not able to meet the regulations,” said Rachel Kania, director of school food services in Westfield.

School officials are having a hard time getting all the nutritional food items needed on a daily basis.

“We might have to go to the point where we serve white pasta…instead of whole wheat, we might have to go to the point where it is regular chicken nuggets from Tyson, instead of whole grain,” said Kania.

On Wednesday, the Westfield School District put out a message on their Facebook page, notifying parents of food and packaging shortages.

“All of the deliveries have either been delayed multiple days, sometimes in cases a week,” said Kania.

Kania told Western Mass News that they receive their food shipments from Thurston Foods.

We spoke to the company a week ago, when the West Springfield school district put out a similar message to their community.

CEO of Thurston Foods, Inc. Peter Malone told us there is a supply and staffing shortage nationwide.

“We literally have been trying to hire warehouse staff and transportation staff…every day since probably close to a year,” said Malone.

Kania said the district is also seeing a shortage in utensils and paper supplies.

“Normally we would be able to put an order in and within 24 hours, receive that order, and now it’s come to the point where for paper supplies we put that order in and we may not see it for a week or two,” said Kania.

Western Mass News is getting answers. We reached out to the company that delivers the district’s disposal items.

Scott Parent, the president of Mansfield Paper Company told us the suppliers he works with do not have enough employees to run their equipment.

“Suppliers just didn’t have enough raw materials, many of the items that we do sell to school, suppliers just didn’t have enough raw material to produce everything, so they just shut down complete lines,” said Parent.

Parent said there is also a driver shortage, which is impacting transportation times.

One supplier he had worked with closely used to deliver items between seven to 10 days. But now,

“That supplier is now at about a 50 percent fill rate and their lead times are six weeks, sometimes longer,” said Parent.

Parent predicts the supply chain shortage will go through the winter months.

“We are starting to see the plastic trickle over into paper, so paper food boats, something you would get french fries at a fair, that kind of product is now extended lead times and on continue back order,” said Parent.

Parent said he doesn’t expect supply chains to get back to pre-pandemic levels until the springtime of next year.

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