JERICHO, N.Y. - School districts on Long Island are scrambling, swapping, and getting creative when it comes to what's on the school menu.
"We may have had to switch out pizza for chicken," Jericho School District superintendent Hank Grishman said. "I never remember seeing shortages in my entire career."
Food suppliers are facing labor shortages and transportation challenges that are increasing costs and limiting supplies for local schools.
School officials believe the pandemic is mostly to blame.
The Brentwood School District serves close to 8,000 meals for breakfast and more than 11,000 for lunch.
Superintendent Richard Loeschner said that in the past, menus for the entire school year were chosen well in advance. Now his staff is constantly calling vendors to see what's available. Some vendors have also gone out of business.
"Sometimes we expect a large delivery of 150 cases for example and only 10 may arrive and we have to scramble, change up the menu to meet the needs of kids," he said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced a $1.5 billion allocation to help districts deal with supply chain costs and shortages. It's predicted food supply could improve by early next year but other delays could last even longer.
"Obviously the choices may not be what they used to be but we're getting it done," Loeschner said.
And the issue isn't limited to Long Island. P.S. 139 in Rego Park, Queens, sent a letter to families saying that hot lunch will be suspended and only cold options will be served until certain materials become available.