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Kansas City-area nonprofits offer to help school districts reporting lunch-supply issues

Kanbe's Markets offers assistance to districts facing supply chain issues
Posted at 6:18 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 19:23:04-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The ripple effects that COVID-19 is having on the country's supply chain issue has now reached school cafeterias, with as many as five Kansas City area schools districts having to substitute food on their lunch menu.

"We all need help here and it's going to take a lot of us working hard and working together even if it's not something that impacts you directly," Maxfield Kaniger, founder and CEO of Kanbe's Markets said. "If you have the time or the capacity to help, please do."

In the opposite of a call for help, community agencies are stepping up before they're even asked.

“From across the country to even stuff being imported in, it’s hard to move food where it needs to be," Kaniger said. "There’s things that aren’t making it out of warehouses because they don’t have enough drivers, they don’t have enough trucks to get it where it needs to go and then there are times where they have too many trucks and too many drivers and they couldn’t get food from one place over here."

It's an issue that Shanita McAfee Bryant, the chef and executive director of The Prospect Urban Eatery has also noticed.

"It's one of those, when the whole house is burning down, do you get stuff out of the kitchen? Or do you get stuff out of the living room? Or do you get stuff at the bedroom," Bryant said. "We're in the kitchen now and we need some serious help."

Rules say districts can forgo nutritional meal requirements when certain foods are unavailable, but some students rely on the food they get in school because they cannot get it elsewhere.

"I've tried to reach out and connect with anybody I know that is in anyway connected with the school districts just to see if there is something that we could do to step up," Kaniger said. "And the feedback has kind of been like 'Yes we'd love to have you here but we're not really sure where that role is yet and how to help.'"

McAfee Bryant said spreading awareness and starting a conversation on the supply issue is an important first step.

"I think what you guys are doing at 41 is important," McAfee Bryant said. "What you're saying is like 'Hey does anybody know that this is a problem and we're getting a conversation started.'"

While the schools identified as having communicated supply chain issues with students have not contacted Kanbe's Markets or The Prospect Urban Eatery, they still want districts to know the help is there.

"I'm happy to help, if it's storage, if it's getting more food out, if they need a few extra hands getting things delivered, if it's helping volunteers, then we will happily put the word out," Kaniger said. "Because we are part of the communities were trying to serve, we have a lot of members of our team that are going to know what it's like to not have that access to a meal here and there and what it's like to try and make sure you're putting good food on the table for your kids and so it does it makes it really real."

KSHB 41 News reached out to Missouri Gov. Parson's office to see if there's anything the Governor can do in this situation, and if any superintendents have reached out.

According to a spokesperson, a couple superintendents did make contact to express the difficulties they're experiencing, but KSHB 41 News did not hear back as to if or how the Governor's office responded.

During the pandemic, 41 Action News wants to spotlight people, organizations and companies helping the community. To share these stories, use #WeSeeYouKSHB on social media.