School districts across the country are struggling with nationwide food shortages, and Williamson County Schools is no different.
The WCS Food Services Department is working tirelessly to feed more students than ever, according to a report from InFocus. As of Oct. 22, WCS cafeterias have served more than 1.6 million meals. During any other year, that number would be less than a million at this point in the semester.
"We're serving more meals than ever with less staff and less food," said WCS Food Services Director James Remete. "I want to thank our parent volunteers, because without them, what we’re doing wouldn't even be possible."
Approximately 30,000 of the district's 42,000 students eat a school meal each day. Because of the amount of food required, cafeteria managers and Food Services employees are unable to run to local grocery stores and restock and are forced to change menus daily based on what food is available. Despite the challenges, the department still ensures that students have a variety of choices each day.
"We're still trying to put good food out there," Remete said. "The food is still looking good and colorful. Our staff is working hard to make sure that students still have options."
The department is using all resources at its disposal, including ordering food from every available supplier such as Sysco, IWC Food Service and more. Staff members are also making runs to Sam's Club, Publix, Kroger and other stores for items that can be purchased in the area.
"We're outsourcing anywhere we can," Remete said. "We're trying to purchase anywhere and everywhere. We're exhausting our resources with anyone who is willing to do business with us. We used to get one delivery that would cover the whole week. Now we're getting five deliveries. Schools will have different foods delivered at different times."
It's not just food that is in short supply. Paper goods, plastic cutlery and other items are scarce.
"We're at the point right now that we're rationing trays," said Remete. "If they don't absolutely need a tray or a spoon, then we won't give them one. We're just trying to ration our products."
Other district departments are also seeing the effects of the supply chain issues, including Maintenance and Facilities and Construction. It’s not a hit-or-miss problem, Remete says.
"It's not just Food Services, it's everywhere," Remete said. "It’s across the country. There is an issue, and we just want to ask parents to bear with us."