The ongoing inflation and supply chain woes have extended from families and businesses to school districts: Tampa, Florida-area school districts are seeing a supply shortage due to major backlogs at U.S. port facilities.
Local news outlet WFLA reported that Pinellas County Schools is suffering from a shortage of paper products for its school cafeterias. The district’s food and nutrition director, Lynn Geist, said that they are short of Styrofoam products for serving meals to its students.
“For example, we typically use a Styrofoam platter, that’s not available right now so we are going to a round plate,” said Geist. “That’s where we are looking for secondary suppliers, thinking outside of the box for how can we present this, what do we have that we can present out sliced peaches in if that little cup doesn’t come in.”
But Pinellas County Schools are not alone in feeling the pain: Hillsborough County Public Schools reported shortages in food items. A school spokesperson said, “We receive notifications on almost a daily basis of items that we’ve ordered but didn’t come into our distributor. We’ve experienced shortages in chicken products, pizza, fruits and most recently grains.”
Additionally, neighboring school systems in Hernando County and Polk County are undergoing similar supply and food shortage problems.
Despite the supply chain shortages, these schools emphasized that it has not impacted their ability to serve nutritious meals to students. However, it is reasonable to say that if these supply chain problems continue, that could become a possibility.
So far, the Biden administration has not made major improvements to its plans to alleviate supply chain problems. For example, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg claimed that the supply chain backup occurred because President Joe Biden “has successfully guided this economy out of the teeth of a terrifying recession.” He acknowledged that the problems will “continue into next year,” but said that was due to increased demand and income due to Biden’s policies.
Instead of tackling supply chain issues head-on, Buttigieg focused on alleged racism within America’s highway system. At a recent press briefing at the White House, he said that he is focusing on systemic racism in America’s highway system in light of proposed infrastructure bills awaiting passage in Congress. He claimed, “If an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly Black and Puerto Rican kids to a beach … in New York was designed too low for it to pass by, that … obviously reflects racism that went into those design choices.” The cabinet secretary added, “I don’t think we have anything to lose by confronting that simple reality and I think we have everything to gain by acknowledging it.”