Metro Detroit school districts struggle to feed students amid global supply chain shortage

New regulations have school districts serving free meals to more students

Educators discuss struggle with feeding children with ongoing global supply chain shortage

DETROIT – You have likely noticed more empty shelves at the grocery store. Now the supply chain problems the country has been experiencing during the pandemic are impacting local school districts and their ability to feed students.

Feeding children is the best job in the world to Nichol Marshall, the food service director for Romeo Community School District.

“Because I get to give nutrition to all these students here,” said Haw.

 Tuesday was actually a really big day in the Romeo Community School District.

One common question is when you talk about what it takes to reach these goals of serving some 4,000 meals a day in a district with 5,000 students you get this reaction.

“It is just really hard right now, but it is fine. We will get it done just like we do everyday,” said Haw while getting emotional.

Feeding children in a district this size amplifies the lack of infrastructure, the sheer logistics and the supply chain deficit. It makes the job of feeding children at this level untenable. 

Remember the school menus you used to get in advance so you could plan ahead?

That is out of the window because of supply chain issues. No one knows what they’ll get from day to day. 

“Whatever we can get our hands on at this point is what we are doing,” said Haw.

And this is not just a Romeo Community School District problem, but a national problem. 

New federal regulations have school districts serving free meals to more students.

“Everyone in the United States is feeding children for free so we’re looking at 50 million children in the United States who could possibly have free lunch and breakfast,” said Haw adding that districts are searching for the same food and supplies.

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About the Authors:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's a Peace Corps alum who spent her early childhood living in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Tanzania and East Africa.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.