How many kids are Sarasota and Manatee schools feeding amid national supply chain woes?

Sarasota Herald Tribune | By Ryan McKinnon | November 2, 2021

It may have been decades since you marched through the lunch line at school, but you probably took for granted that the square pizza slice and chocolate milk would be there waiting for you. 

Today’s youth know no such luxury. 

Well, that may be a stretch, but schools are dealing with shortages as the nation’s supply chain woes have hit school cafeterias. Trucks are showing up missing cases of food and supplies, forcing administrators to buy out all of Costco’s Cheez-Its to make sure the kids under their watch have a lunch. 

We reached out to the food and nutrition leaders of both Sarasota and Manatee school districts to get a sense of how much food they serve on a daily basis, what the kids these days are clamoring for, and how the nation’s supply chain issues are affecting them.

Sarasota and Manatee County school food by the numbers: 

Number of meals served per day:

Sarasota: 32,105

Manatee: 47,000

Number of meals served per year:

Sarasota: 4.66 million

Manatee: 8.7 million

Most popular food item:

Sarasota: Anything chicken 

Manatee: Pizza and anything chicken

Total number of food service workers:

Sarasota: 304 employees

Manatee: 332 employees

Total annual budget for Food and Nutrition Services:

Sarasota: $10 million

Manatee: $29.6 million

Number of cases of food bought per week:

Sarasota: 4,000 to 5,000

Manatee: 15,000

Total number of cases that have been short this year:

Sarasota: Don’t have a total for the year, but in just the last two weeks the district has been short roughly 5,000 cases. 

Manatee: Roughly 20%

Additional expense of buying food at places like Costco

Sarasota: Not yet calculated. 

Manatee: Not yet calculated.

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