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            全美學校食堂缺貨:不僅無雞可炸,花生果醬三明治也沒了

            全美學校食堂缺貨:不僅無雞可炸,花生果醬三明治也沒了

            Alejandro Fgueroa 2021年10月25日
            持續的勞動力短缺問題加劇了美國的供應鏈困境,而供應鏈問題也成了全美學校食堂面臨的又一大壓力。

            九月一個周二的凌晨5點,俄亥俄州代頓市Centerville City School的自助食堂內,工作人員正忙碌地準備當天的早餐,幾個小時后大批孩子將涌入校區。然而,這些天來,學區學生營養服務監督負責人奧利維亞·斯通面臨著一個價值上百萬美元的問題:菜單怎么安排?

            由于供應鏈混亂和缺貨等問題,每周菜單就像是猜謎。斯通表示:“買齊幾種食品比登天還難。我們整個流程都受到了很大影響。我們甚至無法有效為孩子提供食物。這太可怕了?!弊罱乃拓涇囘\送的貨物中缺了冷凍雞塊、面包或已經包裝好的花生醬和果醬三明治等主食。她試圖預測下周的食物供應情況,但因為各種始料不及意料的短缺狀況,她通常每周都要對菜單計劃做至少兩到三次修改。這對她編制預算也造成了困擾,因為一旦分銷商某款相對便宜的食品斷貨,采購替代品的成本往往會更高。

            斯通說:“我們把菜單發出來,然后祈禱能獲得當天孩子們想要的食物?!?/p>

            持續的勞動力短缺問題加劇了美國的供應鏈困境,而供應鏈問題也成了全美學校食堂面臨的又一大壓力。

            以俄亥俄州另一個學區Beavercreek City Schools為例,該學區學生營養主管喬什·阿什利表示,學校不得不跑到山姆會員店或開市客采購那些很難從分銷商那里訂購的物資。

            新冠疫情防護措施也帶來了一些問題。為了防止病毒傳播,學校傾向于提供獨立包裝的物品,如塑料餐具或一次性托盤,而通過食品分銷商采購這些物品的難度越來越大。

            美國學校營養協會發言人黛安·普拉特·希夫納表示,雖然并非所有學校都受到嚴重影響,但全國范圍內普遍存在食品短缺的問題。部分較大學區可能準備更充分,也有一些學區可能不會出現嚴重的中斷問題,這些都取決于學校的合作供應商。

            普拉特·希夫納表示:“我們了解到,全國幾乎所有學區都在努力應對供應鏈問題?!?/p>

            食物需求量更大

            在校就餐學生增多加劇了這種壓力。

            往年,全國的學校會通過農業部全國暑期無縫計劃獲得補助,以學校午餐計劃(NSLP)形式在暑假期間為孩子提供免費餐食。

            然而,疫情爆發初期,為了確保免費餐食達到政府食品標準、并不間斷地為學生提供營養食品,聯邦機構將該計劃延長至了整個學年。

            通常,參加NSLP計劃的學校會根據學生家庭的收入和人口數量獲得餐費補助。2019年,免費餐食的最高報銷金額為每份3.65美元。然而,《聯邦公報》的一份報告顯示,2021年,按照美國農業部豁免政策,學??梢酝ㄟ^暑期餐飲服務計劃獲得每份午餐4.25美元的補助。

            普拉特·希夫納認為,依據豁免政策,該計劃現已延長至2022年6月,這就意味著參加該計劃的學校為孩子提供的餐食都是免費的。

            在Centerville,斯通表示,家長不要因為疫情期間花錢購買學校午餐而感到負擔,這一點很重要。但餐食增多意味著本就不堪重負的50名自助餐廳員工需要每日為學區提供5000份膳食。

            俄亥俄州立大學專門研究供應鏈管理的教授W·C·本頓表示,食品供應短缺問題給全國所有食品企業都造成了影響,包括餐館等私營企業,但更讓人擔憂的是,這種影響如今也波及到了學校。

            本頓稱:“學區之間正在競爭同一個供貨渠道。因此,由于供應不足、需求旺盛,自然就會衍生出各個層面的價格上漲?!?/p>

            本頓表示,這種程度的食物供應鏈中斷史無前例,并且供應鏈何時企穩仍不得而知。這取決于該行業如何適應并找到新的替代方案來服務客戶。他說:“這種局面好轉前還會進一步惡化。我們缺乏司機和倉庫工人,所以有一部分人的采購需求得不到滿足,而買到食物的人付出的成本也將難以控制?!?/p>

            貝弗莉·斯圖爾特是俄亥俄州東北部Stewart Sales & Marketing公司的食品代理商,負責代表廠家幫學校采購食品。她說,一些廠家預計冷凍雞肉或零食等食品的送貨時間長達6至9周。斯圖爾特表示:“勞動力不足導致缺貨?!边@是一個連鎖反應:廠家無法獲得原材料、供應商受影響,最后依賴這些供應商的消費者也會受影響。

            說回Centerville,斯通的期待又落空了:本周菜單上的漢堡或花生醬和果醬三明治沒貨。但她將會為需要午餐的孩子準備足夠的食物,她說,目前學校還沒有要求家長為孩子準備午餐。

            斯通表示:“我們有義務保證我們的孩子吃到健康的食物。我們也會為孩子準備充足的食物,只不過不一定能滿足孩子每日對食物品種的期待?!保ㄘ敻恢形木W)

            譯者:唐塵

            九月一個周二的凌晨5點,俄亥俄州代頓市Centerville City School的自助食堂內,工作人員正忙碌地準備當天的早餐,幾個小時后大批孩子將涌入校區。然而,這些天來,學區學生營養服務監督負責人奧利維亞·斯通面臨著一個價值上百萬美元的問題:菜單怎么安排?

            由于供應鏈混亂和缺貨等問題,每周菜單就像是猜謎。斯通表示:“買齊幾種食品比登天還難。我們整個流程都受到了很大影響。我們甚至無法有效為孩子提供食物。這太可怕了?!弊罱乃拓涇囘\送的貨物中缺了冷凍雞塊、面包或已經包裝好的花生醬和果醬三明治等主食。她試圖預測下周的食物供應情況,但因為各種始料不及意料的短缺狀況,她通常每周都要對菜單計劃做至少兩到三次修改。這對她編制預算也造成了困擾,因為一旦分銷商某款相對便宜的食品斷貨,采購替代品的成本往往會更高。

            斯通說:“我們把菜單發出來,然后祈禱能獲得當天孩子們想要的食物?!?/p>

            持續的勞動力短缺問題加劇了美國的供應鏈困境,而供應鏈問題也成了全美學校食堂面臨的又一大壓力。

            以俄亥俄州另一個學區Beavercreek City Schools為例,該學區學生營養主管喬什·阿什利表示,學校不得不跑到山姆會員店或開市客采購那些很難從分銷商那里訂購的物資。

            新冠疫情防護措施也帶來了一些問題。為了防止病毒傳播,學校傾向于提供獨立包裝的物品,如塑料餐具或一次性托盤,而通過食品分銷商采購這些物品的難度越來越大。

            美國學校營養協會發言人黛安·普拉特·希夫納表示,雖然并非所有學校都受到嚴重影響,但全國范圍內普遍存在食品短缺的問題。部分較大學區可能準備更充分,也有一些學區可能不會出現嚴重的中斷問題,這些都取決于學校的合作供應商。

            普拉特·希夫納表示:“我們了解到,全國幾乎所有學區都在努力應對供應鏈問題?!?/p>

            食物需求量更大

            在校就餐學生增多加劇了這種壓力。

            往年,全國的學校會通過農業部全國暑期無縫計劃獲得補助,以學校午餐計劃(NSLP)形式在暑假期間為孩子提供免費餐食。

            然而,疫情爆發初期,為了確保免費餐食達到政府食品標準、并不間斷地為學生提供營養食品,聯邦機構將該計劃延長至了整個學年。

            通常,參加NSLP計劃的學校會根據學生家庭的收入和人口數量獲得餐費補助。2019年,免費餐食的最高報銷金額為每份3.65美元。然而,《聯邦公報》的一份報告顯示,2021年,按照美國農業部豁免政策,學??梢酝ㄟ^暑期餐飲服務計劃獲得每份午餐4.25美元的補助。

            普拉特·希夫納認為,依據豁免政策,該計劃現已延長至2022年6月,這就意味著參加該計劃的學校為孩子提供的餐食都是免費的。

            在Centerville,斯通表示,家長不要因為疫情期間花錢購買學校午餐而感到負擔,這一點很重要。但餐食增多意味著本就不堪重負的50名自助餐廳員工需要每日為學區提供5000份膳食。

            俄亥俄州立大學專門研究供應鏈管理的教授W·C·本頓表示,食品供應短缺問題給全國所有食品企業都造成了影響,包括餐館等私營企業,但更讓人擔憂的是,這種影響如今也波及到了學校。

            本頓稱:“學區之間正在競爭同一個供貨渠道。因此,由于供應不足、需求旺盛,自然就會衍生出各個層面的價格上漲?!?/p>

            本頓表示,這種程度的食物供應鏈中斷史無前例,并且供應鏈何時企穩仍不得而知。這取決于該行業如何適應并找到新的替代方案來服務客戶。他說:“這種局面好轉前還會進一步惡化。我們缺乏司機和倉庫工人,所以有一部分人的采購需求得不到滿足,而買到食物的人付出的成本也將難以控制?!?/p>

            貝弗莉·斯圖爾特是俄亥俄州東北部Stewart Sales & Marketing公司的食品代理商,負責代表廠家幫學校采購食品。她說,一些廠家預計冷凍雞肉或零食等食品的送貨時間長達6至9周。斯圖爾特表示:“勞動力不足導致缺貨?!边@是一個連鎖反應:廠家無法獲得原材料、供應商受影響,最后依賴這些供應商的消費者也會受影響。

            說回Centerville,斯通的期待又落空了:本周菜單上的漢堡或花生醬和果醬三明治沒貨。但她將會為需要午餐的孩子準備足夠的食物,她說,目前學校還沒有要求家長為孩子準備午餐。

            斯通表示:“我們有義務保證我們的孩子吃到健康的食物。我們也會為孩子準備充足的食物,只不過不一定能滿足孩子每日對食物品種的期待?!保ㄘ敻恢形木W)

            譯者:唐塵

            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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