Capital Region schools scramble to keep up with lunch demand

Demand for school lunches is way up this year as families take advantage of the government program offering free lunches for all students.

Increased demand combined with supply chain issues have schools scrambling to get the products they need.

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The New York School Nutrition Association invited vendors to the Saratoga Springs City Center to share the latest innovations available for school meals. There’s some delicious looking options. They’ve never been in higher demand.

We’re in our second year of the government’s free lunch for all students, no matter the family income, and kids are taking part.

At Shenendehowa, they’re feeding between 5,000 and 6,000 students a day, which is up from 1,000 to 2,000 students before it was offered for free.

Increased demand and a lagging supply because of trucking and shipping issues has made it hard to keep up.

However, Shenendehowa Food Services Director Kathy Headwell says their suppliers have been great, helping them get the food they need.

"These companies have been doing an amazing job trying to help us get the food we need to feed those kids, but sometimes it’s a little difficult. They didn’t anticipate the big increase. We didn’t anticipate the big increase, so we’re just trying to navigate through that whole problem right now. Just trying to find what we can, and if it’s not nailed down, we’ll take it," said Headwell.

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Hear what food service leaders are saying about the planned end of the free lunch for all program by watching the video of Mark Mulholland’s story.