“I can tell you that I once received an email from a company discontinuing a product. So it was a challenge, ”said Udelhofen.
Mariner and Udelhofen said they were able to adapt to ensure that students with dietary restrictions were not affected by the nutritional blackouts. They were able to ensure that these students were the first to receive the limited quantity meal item or to find a replacement item.
Mariner gave an example of a popular food, “crispitos” made by Tyson Foods, which was discontinued due to the “labor” they had to make. After quitting, Tyson focused more on making chicken nuggets and strips according to Mariner. Now they need to find a replacement that meets the nutritional requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Other items that have become difficult to acquire have been those in plastic packaging, such as Gatorade, according to Mariner. She added that some of the products they order have fluctuated both in price and availability. To counter fluctuations, schools in Mason City and Clear Lake are trying to stay ahead of the curve by having items in stock.
“The chicken nuggets could have been great last week and we’re trying to order them this week and they’re not in stock,” Mariner said. “We try to stay ahead of the game for a few weeks so that we have items and not have to change our menu. But come Monday, when the truck shows up, it might not be on this truck. “