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'We're trying to get creative': How inflation and supply chain woes are impacting Texas school lunches

Denton ISD said its finding substitutes for certain food, like turkey chili and cheese sauce.

DENTON, Texas — Inflation and supply chain and labor shortages are impacting school lunches at Denton ISD.

"Its probably something nationwide, not just Texas, or North Texas," said Liz Raftery, director of child nutrition for Denton ISD.

Raftery told WFAA food distributors and manufacturers are feeling the pinch.

"The increased fuel prices, limited delivery drivers, limited parts to repair trucks that aren't functioning, chemicals that go into packaging, it all plays a role," she said.

It doesn't help that lots of districts are after the safe food, she said. Her team's had to get creative. 

The district's main bread distributer, for example, stopped delivering from Houston to Denton. 

Her team had to find a local vendor. 

The district can't get the turkey chili or cheese sauce for its famous nachos. Her team had to find substitutes. 

"We're using a chicken taco meat and shredded cheese," Raftery said. 

And those substitutes have to be specific, because the district has to meet nutrition standards set by the government. 

"We will always have something to feed the kids, it might not be what's menu itemed that day," she said.

Instead of offering the typical 15-16 entrees for high school students, they've cut down to 10-12.

Raftrey said her team survived the entire pandemic without missing its marks for nutrition standards, and they expect to keep that trend up -- no matter the odds. 

"Adapt and adjust," she said.

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