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Supply chain issues, staffing shortages impact Austin school food services

Burnet CISD has menu changes everyday. They worry about not being able to provide accurate menus for diabetic students.

AUSTIN, Texas — School lunch is the part of the day some students look forward to the most. Recently, it's one of the most dreaded times for cafeteria workers. 

"We're stressed, they're stressed, and they're used to the routine," said Kayla Earnshaw, food service director at Burnet CISD. 

It is stress that Earnshaw said is caused by staffing shortages, which brings on added challenges. 

"One of the things, too, we've always served multiple menu items to our students in the past," added Earnshaw. "One of the things that we were trying to do to eliminate stress on staff is we had to go down to one or two menu items."

Austin ISD is another district also down about 100 cafeteria staff members. 

"We are just looking to fill across all the kitchens from food service line employees to supervisors and trainers," said Eduardo Villa, media relations specialist for Austin ISD.

But the problem goes beyond the lunchroom. Something else districts have to take into account are their suppliers, who are also short-staffed. 

"We're even seeing our food suppliers being impacted with some of our orders not being able to get here, or substitutions," added Villa. 

When food doesn't arrive, it makes it even harder for lunch staff to keep up. 

"So, we may have to go to H-E-B and grab something," added Earnshaw.

While they try to find solutions, these menu changes at Burnet CISD schools impact the students.

"Probably one of the biggest challenges there is: your diabetic students who need an accurate carb count daily," said Earnshaw.

They're trying to do their best, but there's only so much they can do. The suppliers are short-staffed, and that's simply out of the districts' control.


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