The vast majority (90 percent) of SFAs are using the Seamless Summer Option Waiver to serve meals in SY 2021-22 which allows schools to offer all students free meals at the higher Summer Food Service Program reimbursement rates. Public and larger SFAs were more likely to use the waiver than smaller or private SFAs.
About 92 percent of SFAs reported experiencing challenges due to supply chain disruptions. The most frequently cited challenges include limited product availability, orders arriving with missing or substituted items, and labor shortages. SFAs expect these and other issues to last into SY 2022-23. Public, larger and rural SFAs, were more likely to report challenges.
SFAs reported experiencing the most challenges procuring meal service supplies, meat/meat alternates (such as chicken products), and whole grain items (including bakery items, breads and rolls). Many SFAs reported that these challenges are getting worse compared to the beginning of SY 2021-22.
SFAs reported increased staff stress or workload, higher program costs and difficulty maintaining compliance with the meal patterns as a result of supply chain disruptions. To offset these impacts, SFAs reported substituting products and using the waivers.
SFAs using the SSO waiver were less likely to report a deficit as of October 2021. About 71 percent of SFAs were at least breaking even financially as of October 2021, which is comparable to what SFAs reported in a typical year pre-pandemic (73 percent). Smaller SFAs were more likely to report a deficit as of October 2021 than larger SFAs.
Nearly three-quarters of SFAs (73 percent) reported experiencing staffing challenges. Smaller and private SFAs were less likely than larger and public SFAs to report staffing challenges. Cooks/food prep staff, drivers, and maintenance were the most commonly cited staffing shortages.