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Missouri DESE assisting 2 Kansas City-area school districts facing lunch-supply issues

School Lunch
Posted at 6:36 PM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-13 23:40:56-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is assisting two Kansas City-area school districts dealing with lunch supply issues.

In early September, several school districts reported changes to their food service because of the supply issues.

Susan Hiland, director of media and public relations for North Kansas City Public Schools, said since then, the situation has "gotten worse," leading to the district to reach out to DESE for help.

"According to our Food and Nutritional Director, Jenna Knuth, it has gotten worse with the last remaining big food distributor getting out. She says all districts are in crisis mode," Hiland said in an email to KSHB 41 News. "Our superintendent has contacted the Governor’s office and MO Education Commissioner for help. We plan communication to families later this week about menu substitutions."

A spokeswoman for DESE confirmed the districts (North Kansas City and another unnamed district) have reached out for the help.

They also attributed the disruptions to staffing shortages among commercial distributors and truck drivers. They said an increase in market prices has also driven the disruptions.

DESE has notified schools in Missouri of emergency procurement options that are available to replace the shortages in schools.

In addition, the department said it's urging government officials to make addressing the issue a priority.

"DESE FNS is working with stakeholders and government officials to draw attention to this issue and explore ways to encourage food distributors to prioritize school customers despite these challenges," Mallory McGowin, chief communications officer for DESE said in an email.

The situation is worrisome for some who have children or even grandchildren.

"It is very concerning to me," Tracy Maloney who is a grandparent to several school students said.

Maloney hopes there could be some fundraiser to help gather food for some of these students in need.

"That's just something that we’re going to have to take care of and overcome it and go from there and do everything we can do to make sure our kids can eat," she said.