Supply chain issues caused by the coronavirus continue to slow deliveries of everything, and Challis schools Food Service Director Sara Jones said the effects will continue to be felt locally indefinitely.

Delays are the new normal for most food items, she said. Deliveries are coming so late, she said, sometimes food arrives just hours before it needs to be served. This has been the situation since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Jones said.

In November 2020, Jones reported to school board members that the supply chain issues were caused by manufacturers working at limited capacity. Last week, Jones said both domestic and international food manufacturers are still dealing with the same problems. Whether they’re happening because of strict COVID-19 guidelines or reduced workforces, Jones said slow deliveries continue to be frustrating.

While Challis students still get meals, Jones said it has been difficult maintaining a varied menu. Because shipments arrive late, Jones said she and her cooks sometimes have to get creative with what they have on hand.

Delivery delays come at a time when more students are eating school meals, which are free this year due to COVID-19 relief from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While the number of high school students who eat at school remains about the same as past years, the number of elementary students eating breakfast and lunch at school have “skyrocketed,” Jones said. A new elementary school cook helps meet the demand, which Jones said has been one of the few reliefs she’s experienced this year.

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