Dear District Administrators:
Let me begin with a heartfelt thank you. We all know that students need to have their basic needs met in order to learn and thrive in school, that students who are hungry cannot access their own education to the fullest potential. And that is why I applaud your tireless work today. The Department of Public Instruction has heard the stories of your presence in the cafeterias, serving food to our kids. While that may not be how you planned to spend your lunch hours, your willingness and continued support does not go unnoticed. We appreciate your flexibility, guidance, and leadership.
Thank you for all your support of the School Nutrition Professionals, who are among our unsung heroes since the start of the pandemic, throughout the school year, and even through the summer. We know labor shortages and supply chain issues are impacting your school food service areas, stretching your directors and managers like never before. They continue to navigate the pandemic while keeping students nourished and ready to learn; and they couldn’t do it without the support of principals, administrative staff, and bookkeepers alike.
We are aware that some parents are expressing concerns about the free meals students are receiving under the Seamless Summer Option (SSO). This can be frustrating as we are not seeing food shortages show up (yet) in our grocery stores. However, the commercial side of food production that provides food to schools based on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requirements has seen these shortages. A family letter is available for schools and districts to send home that describes the supply chain disruptions and potential menu substitutions that may occur. This template is also available in Spanish and Hmong and can be found under the General Information and Program Outreach heading on the SSO COVID Webpage. You may share this information with your families in an attempt to reduce the stress and pressure that your foodservice staff are under.
The USDA is aware of the supply chain issues, shortages, and substitutions that need to be made in order to serve students meals. USDA has many resources available on their Planning for a Dynamic School Environment During School Year 2021-2022: Supply Chain Issues webpage.
While we cannot predict all of the challenges School Nutrition Professionals will face this year, please know that the DPI School Nutrition Team is here to help you navigate them. Please reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for all the work you do to keep Wisconsin’s children fed and healthy!