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Supply chain disruptions impacting lunches in Idaho schools

The Nampa and Boise school districts are having to change their menus because they are not getting regularly scheduled shipments from suppliers.

NAMPA, Idaho — Labor shortages are driving supply chain disruptions at coastal ports in California.     

Dozens of ships that wait to get into the port carry everything from sporting goods to technology, and food. President Joe Biden announced that he will open the Los Angeles port 24-hours a day to help fix the issue.

While many wait for the world's supply chain issues to get resolved, Idaho schools struggle to provide options for school lunches.

The Nampa and Boise school districts are having to change their menus because they are not getting regularly scheduled shipments from suppliers.

“This whole school year I mean we started out saying we can't get this, we can get that, we can't get this,” said Pam Harbeston, the kitchen supervisor at West Middle School in Nampa.

Harbeston has worked for the district for 24 years, she said having to navigate through a shortage issue is a first for her.

“My bosses struggles get food, so say today is green beans but they can't get green beans and we have to shuffle around to find food,” she said. “It is scary, it is scary when you can’t feed the kids.”

According to the district's Executive Director of Operations, Peter Jurhs, the price of goods is skyrocketing. He added, there’s a 45% increase in grains and a 50% increase on things like foam trays.

“Something that our central warehouse is out of is frozen vegetables and that's kind of universal,” Jurhs said.  “The kitchen still had them because they had a stockpile of them in their local freezers but then once those are gone we are looking at serving fresh, and as we mentioned earlier, some of the fresh stuff is hard to get now.”

Nampa School District has a central warehouse that they are relying on to supply students food until January. If the trend continues, the district will need to get creative.

“If people start hoarding, they could exacerbate the issues very quickly,” he said. “It's a reality of something where, we are trying to only buy the product that we know we will use but we are trying to plan to get through the school year.”

According to Jurhs, the district is seeing a shortage of staff in their kitchen, which doesn’t help on the distribution end. He's worried that the long hours and troubling times could push them to leave.

“When are we going to wear the group of people in the supply chain out because they are working 80 hour weeks or 60 hour weeks, whatever it is to where they start leaving to find jobs to where they don't have to do that?” Gurhs said. “That’s my fear in the kitchen here.”

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