Child nutrition supervisor discusses supply chain disruption

By Jim Wilkerson

The Journal reached out to Child Nutrition Supervisor Harryette Tinsley to discuss the supply chain issues the Lincoln Parish School Board is currently facing.

Tinsley explained that the school board has a contract with third-party supplier, Sysco, who has run into various obstacles throughout the fall trying to get supplies to Lincoln Parish. One manufacturing company, Baker’s Craft, is particularly having trouble getting baked goods out.

“Baker’s Craft can’t get enough employees and can only make one item for however many weeks. And then they make another item for another few weeks, and then switch to another item, and so on,” Tinsley explained. “They also can’t find delivery drivers, so no one is delivering.

“That is happening with a lot of the vendors. And if they can’t find the item we want, then we are without. Recently we’ve had to shop at Walmart to get some of the items we need.”

When asked how long Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) has been feeling the effects of the supply chain disruption, Tinsley responded, “We’d noticed in early September that we couldn’t get some plastic items, like sporks, because there was some kind of tax or price added to those items at various ports. So, our vendors could not open those containers to get the items.”

An email between Tinsley and a co-worker from early in the fall reads:

“CHINA is holding the US hostage regarding an polypropolene [sic] products!  FOR EXAMPLE:  The CNPC’s order for fork and spork kits was placed in May and was supposedly on its way FROM China.  [NAME REDACTED] called to check on the shipment two weeks ago and was told that that order was still in China.  When he asked why, the company stated that China had upped the freight charge to $20,000 per container and the manufacturer did not want to lose money on the order.  After some discussion, they were going to ship.  Two days ago, [NAME REDACTED] received a phone call that the freight had gone up to $30,000 per container.  This would double the price of the kits.  Nevertheless, [NAME REDACTED] has negotiated to have the original container shipped, but it will not be here until mid-September.”

In addition, Kellogg’s – another manufacturer FNS uses – sent out a mass email back on Sep. 23 laying out the problems the company was facing and what items were and were not available.

Among the problems listed were constraints in the production of raw material, labor shortages, transportation constraints and a cereal plant that caught fire in Memphis earlier this year.

Then, on Oct. 4, Campbell’s Foodservice also sent a mass email to its customers notifying them that all their 7.25 oz. and 50 oz. thermal soup cans will be temporarily discontinued until mid-November to mid-December.

Tinsley further noted that condiments are currently very difficult to come by.

“So, if you’re at McDonald’s or somewhere like that, stock up on ketchup packets,” she joked. 

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