LHS Cafeteria Faces National Food Shortage

Anvita Kalpande and Sapphire Wang

The Lexington High School cafeteria is currently facing a food and packaging materials shortage due to national supply-chain issues. The Lexington Public Schools administration sent out an email notifying the community of this issue in October.

The unprecedented shortage has created a variety of issues, most notably the deficiency of paper items.

“We are constantly having to juggle around different types of paper items, which hurts our compost program because the items that we do have may not be compostable, and it gets confusing for the students when they go to discard their items,” Kevin Silvia, the food service director at Lexington, said.

Meanwhile, the shortage of food varies daily. If there are not enough waffles in the elementary schools, LHS has to compensate. The food services have to plan accordingly to prevent a chain reaction from affecting menu choices across LPS. With changes being made on short notice, it can pose a challenge to students with allergies.

“Parents want to make sure if somebody’s allergic to something, we make sure that we let the student know. That’s why we have kids come through the line a lot, even though food is free right now,” Silvia said.

With nine schools to manage, LPS is attempting to locate food in an organized manner while maintaining nutritional standards. Despite the shortage, students are still required to take food items from three of the five categories, as per USDA standards: protein, grain, fruit, vegetable, or milk.

This requirement leads to another critical factor that must be considered: food waste. Some students are unwilling to take a fruit or vegetable and will throw it out uneaten. To address this, LHS is working with Foodlink, a food rescue and distribution organization, to donate pre-consumer and post-consumer foods. 

“We’re working with them to see if we can donate to a shelter or see if we can take that and recycle it back in if it’s been packaged,” Silvia said.

While food shortage of this scale at LHS is unprecedented, the cafeteria continues to offer meals for free for all students. 

“I think we’re really blessed in Lexington because we are able to keep up with the amount of choices that we have so that students are still able to get the diversity of food and being able to pick what they want,” Silvia said.