Food Service Updates

August 31, 2021

Waterloo Families: 

Thank you for the overwhelming support that many of you have offered regarding the cancelled food delivery for this morning.  I would like to provide an update for what we anticipate for the remainder of this week and the month of September, and what we are learning regarding the industry in general.    

For the remainder of this week, menus will be more basic and will have substitutions, but we do have enough food for students to participate.  If sending lunches for your children is a hardship, or if your children just enjoy the lunches being prepared, we have enough to get through this week.  Students should participate without any guilt, we just can't promise what it will be.  We have secured a delivery for Monday morning and were able to increase the order on this delivery so that our coolers are stocked with weeks worth of food.  This will allow us some flexibility in adjusting menus during situations of postponed or cancelled deliveries.  We have had successful contact with two additional food supply companies that have the capacity to help with some of our food supply needs when given ample notice.  We will be establishing a business relationship with these companies (and potentially others) to help us while Kohl Wholesale is struggling to meet demand during their labor shortage.  

While this week's situation was due to a shortage of drivers, we are learning that the food supply chain is fragile and unstable in general.  Some foods are in short and/or unstable supply.  We are being told to expect these conditions to continue, with no clear end in sight.  The majority of these issues are due to a nation-wide labor shortage in several industries.    

While some food is perishable, we will not be able to stock weeks worth of all types of food products.  There may be days that some components of a meal are missing or menus are altered with little notice.  Regardless, we do feel that we have this immediate crisis resolved for now.     Thank you, again, for the generosity of those that were preparing to help and for the overwhelming support.  We may need you in the future, but not right at this moment.    

As a school district, we often feel we are here to serve our community.  It was a very comforting feeling to experience the community immediately preparing to assist us in our time of need!  

Sincerely,  
Brian Charron 

August 30, 2021

Waterloo Families, 

As if this school year isn't complicated enough, last Thursday evening a notice was sent out to all customers by Kohl Wholesale (the main distributor of food to schools in our area) that they were experiencing a labor shortage and may be unable to deliver food on time, if at all, in the coming weeks.  We have been communicating with our neighboring districts, the Illinois State Board of Education, and other potential distributors of food supplies that may be able to help.  While we have been experiencing unreliable shipment of bread products, we were hoping we would have other suppliers in line to help before food delivery cancellations became a reality.    

We were notified this evening that tomorrow morning's shipment to schools in Monroe County has been cancelled.  Our next possible shipment date is Friday, but we are cautioned not to rely on this shipment.  We have been asked to simplify our menus to the most basic of meals, to be prepared for continued shortened or completely cancelled deliveries in the weeks ahead, to ask families that can afford to send food with their children to please do so, to reduce the sale of any ala carte items, and to purchase only what we need to get kids fed.    

We are forced to immediately reduce our menus to the most basic of meals.  Please do not rely on previously posted menus for any of our buildings for the remainder of this week.  If sending food with your child is an option, please consider doing so. 
   

Kohl Wholesale is claiming they only have 170 employees, but they need 215 employees to adequately load and deliver food to the schools they are contracted with.  They caution that this labor shortage is industry wide.  Regardless, we have been communicating with other suppliers and will do everything we can to secure a food supply through other means until this crisis is resolved.  

Brian Charron
Superintendent
Waterloo CUSD #5