USDA Releases Supply Chain Disruptions Report

2022-03-03

USDA-FNS-Adm-SFA-Survey-on-Supply-Chain-Disruptions-508The USDA conducted a survey of School Food Authorities (SFAs) operating during the 2021/22 School Year regarding challenges with supply chain disruptions. The online survey, conducted from November 8 - December 13, 2021, was distributed to all SFAs administering child nutrition programs across all 50 states and US territories and received a response rate of 60 percent.

According to the survey, 90 percent of SFAs are using the Seamless Summer Option Waiver to serve meals in SY 2021-2022. This allows schools to offer free meals to all students at the higher Summer Food Service Program reimbursement rates. Public and larger SFAs were more likely to use the waiver.

92 percent of SFAs are experiencing challenges due to supply chain disruptions. They reported that most of the issues are product availability, orders arriving with missing or substituted items, and labor shortages. They foresee these and other challenges to last into SY 2022-2023. Public, larger, and rural SFAs were more likely to report challenges. SFAs indicated that supply chain disruptions have caused an increase in staff stress or workload, higher program costs and difficulty maintaining compliance with the meal patterns. As a result, SFAs have been substituting products and using the waivers.

Survey data also indicates that, as of October 2021, SFAs operating with the SSO waiver were less likely to report a deficit. About 71 percent of SFAs were at least breaking even financially, which is comparable to what SFAs reported in a typical year pre-pandemic (73 percent). Smaller SFAs were more likely to report a deficit.

Procuring meal service supplies, meat/meat alternates (such as chicken products), and whole grain items (including bakery items, breads, and rolls) are among the main challenges SFAs are facing, and they reported these as getting worse compared to the beginning of SY 2021-2022.

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents (73 percent) are experiencing staffing challenges. Most of the staffing shortage is in the job categories of cooks/food prep staff, drivers, and maintenance staff. Smaller and private SFAs were less likely than larger and public SFAs to report staffing challenges. 

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