Taste test

Siri Hedreen / The Outlook

Alexander City Schools is asking parents to give their children breakfast or send them to school with a snack as its cafeteria food vendor has been unable to make its deliveries in the past few weeks. As of last school year, over 60% of Alex City Schools students were eligible for free or reduced breakfast and lunch.

The school district made the request after warning parents they may be short on breakfast food in the coming weeks, due to the vendor, Southern Foodservice, being "short on supplies, drivers and even warehouse employees," according to a Facebook post Saturday.

"We have taken action to open accounts with other vendors in an attempt to diversify our supply options," Alex City Schools stated. "Breakfast may be impacted more so than lunch in the coming weeks."

The issue is both state- and nationwide. Last month, the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) said food supply shortages were affecting every public-school district in Alabama, but the situation is improving, the state agency said earlier this week. Last year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued waivers allowing school districts more flexibility in meeting federal nutrition requirements due to the COVID-related staffing and supply chain issues.

According to Alex City Schools' Facebook post, the uncertainty has hurt the district's ability to update its menus regularly.

"When supplies do arrive, we do not always receive what we have requested, therefore altering the menus," the post read. "This is a situation that is frustrating for you as a parent, and for us as well as our ability to feed our students is being greatly impacted. Please know we will continue to update you as we work to resolve this issue."

In August, Alex City Schools submitted teachers and employees to a cafeteria food taste test after asking Southern Foodservice to step up the quality of its meals. The request was made following complaints, including photos, from students and parents.

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