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全美学校食堂缺货:不仅无鸡可炸,花生果酱三明治也没了

全美学校食堂缺货:不仅无鸡可炸,花生果酱三明治也没了

Alejandro Fgueroa 2021年10月25日
持续的劳动力短缺问题加剧了美国的供应链困境,而供应链问题也成了全美学校食堂面临的又一大压力。

九月一个周二的凌晨5点,俄亥俄州代顿市Centerville City School的自助食堂内,工作人员正忙碌地准备当天的早餐,几个小时后大批孩子将涌入校区。然而,这些天来,学区学生营养服务监督负责人奥利维亚·斯通面临着一个价值上百万美元的问题:菜单怎么安排?

由于供应链混乱和缺货等问题,每周菜单就像是猜谜。斯通表示:“买齐几种食品比登天还难。我们整个流程都受到了很大影响。我们甚至无法有效为孩子提供食物。这太可怕了。”最近的送货车运送的货物中缺了冷冻鸡块、面包或已经包装好的花生酱和果酱三明治等主食。她试图预测下周的食物供应情况,但因为各种始料不及意料的短缺状况,她通常每周都要对菜单计划做至少两到三次修改。这对她编制预算也造成了困扰,因为一旦分销商某款相对便宜的食品断货,采购替代品的成本往往会更高。

斯通说:“我们把菜单发出来,然后祈祷能获得当天孩子们想要的食物。”

持续的劳动力短缺问题加剧了美国的供应链困境,而供应链问题也成了全美学校食堂面临的又一大压力。

以俄亥俄州另一个学区Beavercreek City Schools为例,该学区学生营养主管乔什·阿什利表示,学校不得不跑到山姆会员店或开市客采购那些很难从分销商那里订购的物资。

新冠疫情防护措施也带来了一些问题。为了防止病毒传播,学校倾向于提供独立包装的物品,如塑料餐具或一次性托盘,而通过食品分销商采购这些物品的难度越来越大。

美国学校营养协会发言人黛安·普拉特·希夫纳表示,虽然并非所有学校都受到严重影响,但全国范围内普遍存在食品短缺的问题。部分较大学区可能准备更充分,也有一些学区可能不会出现严重的中断问题,这些都取决于学校的合作供应商。

普拉特·希夫纳表示:“我们了解到,全国几乎所有学区都在努力应对供应链问题。”

食物需求量更大

在校就餐学生增多加剧了这种压力。

往年,全国的学校会通过农业部全国暑期无缝计划获得补助,以学校午餐计划(NSLP)形式在暑假期间为孩子提供免费餐食。

然而,疫情爆发初期,为了确保免费餐食达到政府食品标准、并不间断地为学生提供营养食品,联邦机构将该计划延长至了整个学年。

通常,参加NSLP计划的学校会根据学生家庭的收入和人口数量获得餐费补助。2019年,免费餐食的最高报销金额为每份3.65美元。然而,《联邦公报》的一份报告显示,2021年,按照美国农业部豁免政策,学校可以通过暑期餐饮服务计划获得每份午餐4.25美元的补助。

普拉特·希夫纳认为,依据豁免政策,该计划现已延长至2022年6月,这就意味着参加该计划的学校为孩子提供的餐食都是免费的。

在Centerville,斯通表示,家长不要因为疫情期间花钱购买学校午餐而感到负担,这一点很重要。但餐食增多意味着本就不堪重负的50名自助餐厅员工需要每日为学区提供5000份膳食。

俄亥俄州立大学专门研究供应链管理的教授W·C·本顿表示,食品供应短缺问题给全国所有食品企业都造成了影响,包括餐馆等私营企业,但更让人担忧的是,这种影响如今也波及到了学校。

本顿称:“学区之间正在竞争同一个供货渠道。因此,由于供应不足、需求旺盛,自然就会衍生出各个层面的价格上涨。”

本顿表示,这种程度的食物供应链中断史无前例,并且供应链何时企稳仍不得而知。这取决于该行业如何适应并找到新的替代方案来服务客户。他说:“这种局面好转前还会进一步恶化。我们缺乏司机和仓库工人,所以有一部分人的采购需求得不到满足,而买到食物的人付出的成本也将难以控制。”

贝弗莉·斯图尔特是俄亥俄州东北部Stewart Sales & Marketing公司的食品代理商,负责代表厂家帮学校采购食品。她说,一些厂家预计冷冻鸡肉或零食等食品的送货时间长达6至9周。斯图尔特表示:“劳动力不足导致缺货。”这是一个连锁反应:厂家无法获得原材料、供应商受影响,最后依赖这些供应商的消费者也会受影响。

说回Centerville,斯通的期待又落空了:本周菜单上的汉堡或花生酱和果酱三明治没货。但她将会为需要午餐的孩子准备足够的食物,她说,目前学校还没有要求家长为孩子准备午餐。

斯通表示:“我们有义务保证我们的孩子吃到健康的食物。我们也会为孩子准备充足的食物,只不过不一定能满足孩子每日对食物品种的期待。”(财富中文网)

译者:唐尘

九月一个周二的凌晨5点,俄亥俄州代顿市Centerville City School的自助食堂内,工作人员正忙碌地准备当天的早餐,几个小时后大批孩子将涌入校区。然而,这些天来,学区学生营养服务监督负责人奥利维亚·斯通面临着一个价值上百万美元的问题:菜单怎么安排?

由于供应链混乱和缺货等问题,每周菜单就像是猜谜。斯通表示:“买齐几种食品比登天还难。我们整个流程都受到了很大影响。我们甚至无法有效为孩子提供食物。这太可怕了。”最近的送货车运送的货物中缺了冷冻鸡块、面包或已经包装好的花生酱和果酱三明治等主食。她试图预测下周的食物供应情况,但因为各种始料不及意料的短缺状况,她通常每周都要对菜单计划做至少两到三次修改。这对她编制预算也造成了困扰,因为一旦分销商某款相对便宜的食品断货,采购替代品的成本往往会更高。

斯通说:“我们把菜单发出来,然后祈祷能获得当天孩子们想要的食物。”

持续的劳动力短缺问题加剧了美国的供应链困境,而供应链问题也成了全美学校食堂面临的又一大压力。

以俄亥俄州另一个学区Beavercreek City Schools为例,该学区学生营养主管乔什·阿什利表示,学校不得不跑到山姆会员店或开市客采购那些很难从分销商那里订购的物资。

新冠疫情防护措施也带来了一些问题。为了防止病毒传播,学校倾向于提供独立包装的物品,如塑料餐具或一次性托盘,而通过食品分销商采购这些物品的难度越来越大。

美国学校营养协会发言人黛安·普拉特·希夫纳表示,虽然并非所有学校都受到严重影响,但全国范围内普遍存在食品短缺的问题。部分较大学区可能准备更充分,也有一些学区可能不会出现严重的中断问题,这些都取决于学校的合作供应商。

普拉特·希夫纳表示:“我们了解到,全国几乎所有学区都在努力应对供应链问题。”

食物需求量更大

在校就餐学生增多加剧了这种压力。

往年,全国的学校会通过农业部全国暑期无缝计划获得补助,以学校午餐计划(NSLP)形式在暑假期间为孩子提供免费餐食。

然而,疫情爆发初期,为了确保免费餐食达到政府食品标准、并不间断地为学生提供营养食品,联邦机构将该计划延长至了整个学年。

通常,参加NSLP计划的学校会根据学生家庭的收入和人口数量获得餐费补助。2019年,免费餐食的最高报销金额为每份3.65美元。然而,《联邦公报》的一份报告显示,2021年,按照美国农业部豁免政策,学校可以通过暑期餐饮服务计划获得每份午餐4.25美元的补助。

普拉特·希夫纳认为,依据豁免政策,该计划现已延长至2022年6月,这就意味着参加该计划的学校为孩子提供的餐食都是免费的。

在Centerville,斯通表示,家长不要因为疫情期间花钱购买学校午餐而感到负担,这一点很重要。但餐食增多意味着本就不堪重负的50名自助餐厅员工需要每日为学区提供5000份膳食。

俄亥俄州立大学专门研究供应链管理的教授W·C·本顿表示,食品供应短缺问题给全国所有食品企业都造成了影响,包括餐馆等私营企业,但更让人担忧的是,这种影响如今也波及到了学校。

本顿称:“学区之间正在竞争同一个供货渠道。因此,由于供应不足、需求旺盛,自然就会衍生出各个层面的价格上涨。”

本顿表示,这种程度的食物供应链中断史无前例,并且供应链何时企稳仍不得而知。这取决于该行业如何适应并找到新的替代方案来服务客户。他说:“这种局面好转前还会进一步恶化。我们缺乏司机和仓库工人,所以有一部分人的采购需求得不到满足,而买到食物的人付出的成本也将难以控制。”

贝弗莉·斯图尔特是俄亥俄州东北部Stewart Sales & Marketing公司的食品代理商,负责代表厂家帮学校采购食品。她说,一些厂家预计冷冻鸡肉或零食等食品的送货时间长达6至9周。斯图尔特表示:“劳动力不足导致缺货。”这是一个连锁反应:厂家无法获得原材料、供应商受影响,最后依赖这些供应商的消费者也会受影响。

说回Centerville,斯通的期待又落空了:本周菜单上的汉堡或花生酱和果酱三明治没货。但她将会为需要午餐的孩子准备足够的食物,她说,目前学校还没有要求家长为孩子准备午餐。

斯通表示:“我们有义务保证我们的孩子吃到健康的食物。我们也会为孩子准备充足的食物,只不过不一定能满足孩子每日对食物品种的期待。”(财富中文网)

译者:唐尘

It’s 5 a.m. on a Tuesday in September and the cafeteria staff at Centerville City Schools in Dayton, OH is busy getting the day’s first meal—breakfast—ready at the main district kitchen for the flood of kids that will enter the school buildings in a few hours. These days, though, the million dollar question for Olivia Stone, the school district’s student nutrition service supervision, is: What’s on the menu?

Given rampant supply chain snarls and out of stock items, each week has become a bit of a guessing game. “It has been unbelievably difficult to source several food items,” Stone said. "It really impacts our whole process. It's making it almost impossible to effectively feed our kids and it's frightening.” Of late, delivery trucks have been arriving missing such staples as frozen chicken nuggets, bread, or pre-packaged peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Though she tries to forecast food availability for the week ahead, she usually ends up changing planned menus at least two to three times a week because of unanticipated shortages. It also disrupts her budgeting process because buying substitutes tends to be more expensive if a distributor is out of stock on a more affordable food item.

“We put these menus out and we just cross our fingers. Can we get what the kids are expecting today?” Stone said.

It all highlights how the nation’s supply chain woes—which have been exacerbated by an ongoing worker shortage—have become an added stressor on the schools that feed the country’s kids.

Some school districts, such as Beavercreek City Schools, also in Ohio, are having to make runs to Sam’s Clubs or Costco to stock on supplies that are hard to order from distributors, according to Josh Ashley, the student nutrition supervisor there.

COVID-19 safety precautions have created some challenges too. To prevent the spreading of the virus, schools are opting to serve individually wrapped items like plastic utensils or disposable trays, which are becoming harder to order through food distributors.

Food shortages are happening nationwide, although not all schools are impacted the same way, according to Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokesperson for the National School Nutrition Association. She said some bigger school districts may be better equipped, while others might not see severe disruptions depending on the vendors available to the school.

“We have heard from school districts in every corner of the country small, medium, large, rural, suburban, urban that are struggling with supply chain issues,'' Pratt-Heavner said.

More mouths to feed

Adding to the pressure? More kids are eating meals at school now.

In a typical year, schools nationwide get a reimbursement through the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Seamless Summer Option—which is a program offered through the Nation School Lunch Program (NSLP)—to serve free meals to children in the summer.

At the beginning of the pandemic, however, the federal agency extended the program for the rest of the school year to ensure government food standards were met and to keep consistently providing nutritious foods to students.

Usually, schools participating in the NSLP receive a meal reimbursement based on students' household income and family size. In 2019, the maximum reimbursement for a free meal was $3.65 for each lunch served. In 2021, however, as part of USDA waivers, schools can receive $4.25 per lunch through the Summer Food Service Program, according to a Federal Register report.

The program waiver—which is now extended to June 2022—also means that all school meals are free to children whose school participates in the program, according to Pratt-Heavner.

At Centerville, Stone said it’s important for parents to not feel burdened with having to pay for school lunch through a pandemic. But more meals means an overburdened cafeteria staff of about 50 serving 5,000 meals per day for the school district.

W.C. Benton, an Ohio State University professor who specializes in supply chain management, said the food supply shortage is impacting all food businesses nationwide including restaurants and other private businesses, but it's more concerning when it impacts schools.

“School districts are competing with other school districts for the same supply,” Benton said. “So naturally you're going to have an increase in price at every level because of low supply and high demand.”

Benton said a disruption in the food chain like this is unprecedented and there’s no way to determine how long until the supply chain industry stabilizes, but rather, it depends on how the industry will adapt and find new alternatives to servicing clients. “It's going to get worse before it gets better,” he said. “We just don't have the drivers and warehouse workers, so someone's going to be left out and the ones who are not left out are going to be paying prices that are beyond control.”

Beverly Stewart is food broker at Stewart Sales & Marketing in northeast Ohio. She represents manufacturers and places food orders for schools. She said some manufacturers are seeing delivery times as much as six to nine weeks for food deliveries such as frozen chicken or snacks. “Supplies are scarce because labor is scarce and people don't show up.” Stewart said. It’s a domino effect starting with manufactures that can’t get raw materials which then impacts suppliers and then consumers depending on those supplies.

Back in Centerville, this week's lunch menu won’t be featuring what Stone had hoped: hamburgers or peanut butter and jelly uncrustables were unavailable. But she’ll have enough to feed the kids who need meals, and she said for now the school has not asked parents to pack lunch for their children.

“I think we have a strong obligation to be sure that our kids are getting wholesome meals,” Stone said. “We will have food to feed our children, it just may not necessarily be what they're expecting that day.”

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