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Supply chain crisis impacting public schools in San Luis Obispo

The San Luis Coastal Unified School District said they are struggling to purchase paper products to pack school lunches.
The Laguna Middle School in San Luis Obispo serves more than 400 free meals per day.
Posted at 7:05 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 22:53:10-05

The Laguna Middle School in San Luis Obispo serves more than 400 free meals per day.

It is a school lunch that students look forward to.

“They have really good smoothies and breakfast burritos,” said Gabe Jantos, an eighth grader in San Luis Obispo.

A financial support for parents like Teresa Vigil, who has six children, five of whom are school-aged.

“A bag of groceries used to be like $10 and now it’s $30,” said Vigil who also works for the food and nutrition program at San Luis Coastal Unified School District. “You can buy four bags and all of a sudden it’s $200.”

The goal is to provide a healthy and tasty lunch.

“Have a complete meal: you have a grain, you have your protein, you have your fruit and your vegetable,” explained Christopher Jones, who is the San Luis Coastal Unified School District’s Chef.

Supply chain issues are hitting schools across the San Luis Coastal Unified School District.

“What we are struggling with is paper boats and paper plates,” explained Erin Primer, the Food and Nutrition Services’ Director for the San Luis Coastal Unified School District.

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state is relieving weight restrictions for trucks to address congestion at the ports.

“One of the profound challenges we continue to face is enough truck drivers,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.

For food and nutrition programs it is about relying on local products.

“It might not be the exact thing that we planned, but we are very good at pivoting based on what’s coming in through that door,” added Chef Jones.

Behind the scenes, workers have to be creative and think outside of the box.

“We really wanted to purchase individual bags of chips and due to the supply chain issues they were not coming in house,” said Primer. “We had chips in the menu, we’ve worked with Taco Works in the past, but they come in these larger bags, and we really needed them in individuals for our students.”

Volunteers and student workers have been helping portion those bags of chips. Occasionally staff members have had to go on store runs to find paper products.

“The real secret is serving more meals, we are reimbursed for every single meal we serve, so the more meals we serve, the more money we have in the program,” added Primer. “We can help offset some of those challenges like higher cost of paper goods and sourcing something more local.”

Governor Newsom said the DMV will be extending hours of operations at 15 sites mostly in Southern California to double from 5,000 commercial tests per month to 9,700 tests.