Sarasota Herald Tribune | By Ryan McKinnon | November 2, 2021
It may have been decades since you marched through the lunch line at school, but you probably took for granted that the square pizza slice and chocolate milk would be there waiting for you.
Today’s youth know no such luxury.
Well, that may be a stretch, but schools are dealing with shortages as the nation’s supply chain woes have hit school cafeterias. Trucks are showing up missing cases of food and supplies, forcing administrators to buy out all of Costco’s Cheez-Its to make sure the kids under their watch have a lunch.
We reached out to the food and nutrition leaders of both Sarasota and Manatee school districts to get a sense of how much food they serve on a daily basis, what the kids these days are clamoring for, and how the nation’s supply chain issues are affecting them.
Sarasota and Manatee County school food by the numbers:
Number of meals served per day:
Number of meals served per year:
Sarasota: 4.66 million
Manatee: 8.7 million
Most popular food item:
Sarasota: Anything chicken
Manatee: Pizza and anything chicken
Total number of food service workers:
Sarasota: 304 employees
Manatee: 332 employees
Total annual budget for Food and Nutrition Services:
Sarasota: $10 million
Manatee: $29.6 million
Number of cases of food bought per week:
Sarasota: 4,000 to 5,000
Total number of cases that have been short this year:
Sarasota: Don’t have a total for the year, but in just the last two weeks the district has been short roughly 5,000 cases.
Manatee: Roughly 20%
Additional expense of buying food at places like Costco:
Sarasota: Not yet calculated.
Manatee: Not yet calculated.