Tulsa schools face new crisis as nationwide food supply shortage impact menus, costs

TULSA, Okla. — Schools across the nation are facing the challenges of a food supply shortage.

Union Public Schools Child Nutrition Director, Lisa Griffin, said the issue is relevant in the Tulsa community. She says the supply issues are making it more difficult to get things like beef, chicken, egg products and much more. Griffin said it’s not just food, but those challenges have also impacted the materials they use daily including Styrofoam trays as well as kitchen equipment.

Griffin said students and families fortunately have not been impacted. The school is still providing nutritious and quality meals. However, she said there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make that happen. Griffin said part of the problem has also been a staff shortage and 20% increase in students relying on provided meals that have been free during the pandemic.

Griffin said relying on local food and farmers has helped the school during these tough times and has continued to be a steady supply. She added, “We don’t have to depend on California, Florida or Texas for our fruits or vegetables because it’s right here.”

The problem hasn’t just been the supply, but Griffin also said the price of materials and certain items has also increased. She said the cost of beef and chicken went up anywhere from 5% to 44%. She said many schools will continue to rely on reimbursements through the USDA to help cover those costs.

Griffin said while employees and staff are working hard to make sure they can continue to distribute the meals they’ve always served, but Griffin also added, “I am concerned if it continues like it has the last week or so... it could change. I don’t know, and it’s not because we want to, we’re just forced to.”