Joplin food shortage affecting operations of schools throughout the area

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JOPLIN, Mo. — A food shortage for schools is causing Joplin to change how it operates.

This shortage is causing the schools to put out orders for food up to a month in advance. And even though they order well in advance, many items are still on backorder

Joplin Schools are currently finding it hard to come by chicken, pizza, individually wrapped breakfast sandwiches, yogurt and even Styrofoam plates and cups.

Because of this, they’ve had to improvise.

“If we don’t have a chicken biscuit, we sub out something else. So, we’re always offering food to the students, it just may not be the largest variety we’re accustomed to,” said Rick Kenkel – Joplin Schools Director For Child Nutrition.

Because of this, they’ve also been spending more money to feed students.

“We do a contract bid every year, and they’ve all come back and said due to national shortages, they can’t get it, they’re raising their prices a little bit,” said Kenkel.

With higher prices and less options, the district is forced to buy in bulk up to a month in advance.

While it’s efficient, it also causes more work.

“We want them individually wrapped, so that the students so the students don’t touch other food, or ready to eat foods, so we will then be effected in that fashion that we have an increased labor,” said Kenkel.

Kenkel adds if it wasn’t for their warehouse, they wouldn’t be able to do any of this.

“The Joplin School District is very fortunate to have a warehouse. If we were a school who did not have a warehouse, we couldn’t definitely, couldn’t store quantities of that far in advance,” said Kenkel.

Although certain food options aren’t available, East Middle Principal, Jason Cravens says they don’t notice the shortage thanks to the work of their staff.

“We have not seen any side affects to food shortages at the school, and again our kids are fed well, lunches flow well and things are going well in that area,” said Jason Cravens, East Middle School Principal.

Joplin Schools have six different food distributors to help them out as well.

Kenkel adds that helps them out greatly during the shortage because of one distributor doesn’t have an item, they have other options to choose from.

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