In November 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) conducted the School Food Authority (SFA) Survey on Supply Chain Disruptions to better understand the impact on school nutrition programs.
The survey found that 92 percent of schools reported experiencing challenges due to supply chain disruptions. The most frequently cited challenges include limited product availability, orders arriving with missing or substituted items, and labor shortages, challenges that are expected to continue in the coming school year. Staffing challenges were also reported by nearly three quarters of respondents. Public, larger, and rural districts were more likely to report challenges.
Additionally, the data showed that the overwhelming majority (90 percent) of School Food Authorities (SFAs) are using the Seamless Summer Option Waiver to serve meals in SY 2021-2022, which allows schools to offer all students free meals at the higher Summer Food Service Program reimbursement rates. Public and larger SFAs were more likely to use the waiver than smaller or private SFAs.
This new survey was released at about the same time that it was reported that the child nutrition waivers were not included in the Appropriations omnibus approved by Congress last week. School meals have been vital to combatting child hunger and food insecurity throughout the pandemic and will continue to be necessary in the 2022-2023 school year.