Hickman Mills School District provides breakfast, lunch and dinner for 5200 students. The district is asking for donations as they face a food shortage from the wholesaler. Photo courtesy Hickman Mills School District

Hickman Mills schools face food shortage. Here’s how you can help

HMC-1’s School Meal Program is impacted from nationwide food shortage 

By Kathy Feist

The Hickman Mills C-1 School District is working nonstop to find  a solution to the current nationwide food supply chain issues currently impacting the district as it has for school districts nationwide. 

The shortage started a couple of weeks ago, according to District spokesperson Marissa Cleaver Wamble, when deliveries from their supplier, Kohl Wholesale, became more inconsistent. Starting November 9th, Kohl Wholesale will suspend its contracts with Hickman Mills and four other metro school districts. “This is an issue across the country, and now It’s happening here in Kansas City,” says Wamble.

The service disruptions are driven by staffing shortages among commercial  distributors and truck drivers, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and  Secondary Education (DESE). These labor shortages are forcing vendors to drop customers,  which are often the schools they serve.

“One of the issues is that schools do not have a high profit margin for these vendors. They make more money from restaurants,” says Wamble. “When you are short staffed, and you’re trying to keep your business afloat, that becomes a priority.” 

“Our Nutrition Service Director has been on the phone nonstop trying to secure another vendor,” says Wamble. “But that has been difficult.”

Hickman Mills is one of very few school districts in the state that provides every student with free  breakfast, lunch and dinner, as all 5200 students enrolled in the district qualify for free meals. 

“Many of  our families face food insecurities, and rely on these free meals to support their child’s health  and wellbeing,” reads a statement from the District. “Our commitment to provide these meals for our students and families, despite  not having the same number of menu choices typically offered, will not waver.“

Hickman Mills is asking for help from the community for donations of: 

  • Plastic cutlery, such as forks and spoons
  • Napkins
  • Foam food containers with lids
  • Bulk food items such as individually wrapped cereal, granola bars, cereal bars, goldfish

Wamble says the bars will supplement the children’s breakfasts and dinners in order to provide a full lunchtime meal for all students. Meanwhile, staff meals have been suspended so the children can be fed, says Wamble. 

Grandview and Center school districts contract with a different supplier and are not reporting a food shortage. 

Donations should be delivered to the Hickman Mills Administrative Center at 5401 E 103rd St. For more information, contact Marissa Cleaver Wamble at 816.316.7003 or marissaw@hickmanmills.org.  

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