Local schools face food service staff shortages

DULUTH, Minn. — Schools across the country are in desperate need of food service workers, including Lowell Elementary School in Duluth.

The shortage is not just in the region, but nationwide and across the state.

Duluth Public Schools communications manager Adelle Wellens says they have workers to provide meals. Although, if someone gets sick, they are understaffed and there is a problem.

“When Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, all schools were closed. The following year, schools switched to distance learning. So we didn’t have such a need and other people left and found other jobs because they needed them.

For some students, lunch at school might be their only home-cooked meal. Wellens says working in the kitchen takes more than serving food.

“You can touch so many lives by being a food service worker at a school and have such a positive impact on the lives of those students.”

Fortunately, Wellens says schools in Duluth have not been affected by food shortages. As part of their contracts with school service providers, but when schools open this fall, the district will face some changes.

“So we have a slight increase in meals to 10 cents. All students get free breakfast no matter what. Starting this school year, we will have to return to paid lunches as the Covid-19 Relief received for the past two years is no longer available.

With Duluth schools planning to operate fully in-person, the dining hall will be filled with many mouths to feed.

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