BOSTON — The fixings for up to 40,000 Boston Public School meals a day come out of a warehouse in Dorchester. A big job under normal conditions, harder during the pandemic. But now Laura Benavidez and her staff have to deal with nationwide supply chain disruptions and a shortage of truck drivers to bring them even the basics.
“You can order all that you need, but you need staffing to help bring it to you,” Benavidez said.
“Our usual stock is at least 2-3 weeks out, but now we’re looking at 4-5 just to make sure we have the product available,” said Vytautas Urbe, the BPS product and logistics director.
Just 30 days before school started, BPS and several other districts were sent scrabbling for a new produce provider when family-owned Russo’s Farm and Store closed its doors.
“We had to go out and search for a new product provider. We had to change our logistical ways of getting the product in and out of the schools,” Urbe said.
Even the largest school district in New England isn’t immune to the staffing shortages we’re seeing nationwide. Benevidez said they’re operating at about a 20% deficit.
And there are more mouths to feed. This year, all students are eligible for free lunch under a federal pandemic relief policy created to combat a spike in food insecurity.
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