Supply chain issues are expected to again challenge school food service programs in 2022/23. Since the beginning of the pandemic, CKC Good Food has applied ingenuity and courage to ensure our clients experience the fewest possible disruptions and substitutions in their food service programs.
We adjusted almost every process of our 30-year history for COVID-19. The type of food we procured, its preparation and our service model shifted. From day one of school closings, CKC led the industry and our clients on best practices for feeding remote learners. On March 16, 2020, schools in Minnesota were closed. On March 17, we outlined for our clients our emergency menus and procedures for meal bundling and distribution. Anticipating a potential for widespread school closings and a shift to distance learning, CKC ordered massive quantities of food suitable for sending home with scholars ahead of school closings. Our instincts allowed us to pack and distribute more than 40,000 meals on Wednesday, March 18, and fill a gap in the food system for many kids. As the food service provider to Youthprise, a nonprofit organization serving meals across the Twin Cities, we provided an additional 50,000 meals a week for Saint Paul Public Schools.
This ingeniuity and perseverence will help us address the anticipated supply chain disruptions during SY 2022/23. A recent industry report from the School Nutrition Association, the School Nutrition Foundation and No Kid Hungry/Share Our Strength outlines many of the supply chain challenges likely to impact school food service programs this year, including sourcing products (food, beverages, supplies, equipment) in the format generally used, in sufficient quantities, in a timely manner, and within the price allowed by contracts and budgets, and/or sourcing alternatives that comply with regulations. Increases in costs of everything from ingredients to packaging, labor, equipment and fuel, combined with labor shortages across manufacturing, processing and transportation have led to challenging times for food distributors and food service providers.
While it's impossible to anticipate every possible hiccup in our supply chain, CKC has purchased in advance our most-used ingredients and supplies to minimize substitutions to our menus and general impact on our clients' programs. Our large warehouse and cold storage capacity allow us to buy product ahead of when we will need it. It is very difficult to keep stocked all we will need for our 150+ sites, some of which serve mutliple menus. In the event a distributor is short on a product one week, we have inventory to hold us over until the distributor replenishes inventories. In cases when the distributor simply isn't able to source a product on our menus, CKC will substitute the missing item with a like item. For example, if the beef patty for the hamburger on the day's menu is not available, we may substitute a grilled chicken breast. Both items are 1 per serving and account for 2 meat/meat alternatives on the meal pattern. Schools' serving staffs are informed of the subtitutions and directed on serving size and updating the food production reports.
Our procurement team is in constant contact with our distributors and is monitoring the inventories available for our menu ingredients. This helps us anticipate potential shortages and communicate to our schools. If a product is consistently our of stock, we may update our menus to remove foods that are no longer available.
We understand the substitutions are disruptive to food service programs and lead to disappointment and questions from students, staff, administrator and parents. We hope they will be understanding of these conditions that are beyond our control. We encourage you to proactively communicate with your school community about the potential supply chain issues that may arise this year. We've prepared a letter template for you to use for this purpose.
Please direct any questions to our Client Services Managers: