NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- More than 50 school districts in eastern Pennsylvania received word Wednesday that the food they planned to serve students beginning Monday will arrive after all.
The deliveries from U.S. Foods' Allentown hub had been in jeopardy after the food distributor sent a letter to the districts last week that it would have to cancel the deliveries because it didn't have enough manpower to fulfill the orders.
"This is not a food shortage. This is a labor shortage," said Nicole Melia, supervisor of food service at Great Valley School District and the head of the consortium of districts that buys from U.S. Foods jointly.
Melia said each district scrambled to find alternate sources of food.
One of them was the Norristown Area School District.
Superintendent Christopher Dormer said his staff immediately began looking at other options. The district's 7,500 students rely on free lunch daily.
"Our families count on these meals. We take pride in the quality of food service we provide. It really puts us in a dire situation," said Dormer.
On Wednesday, U.S. Foods changed course and announced deliveries will occur after all. It moved staff from other locations to its Allentown hub to fulfill the orders.
It is not a long-term solution and the state Feeding Task Force is keeping an eye on the problem and trying to find solutions if the problem worsens throughout the school year.
"We are pulling in stakeholders from state agencies, volunteer organizations and business partners, saying 'how can we meet this need?'" said Christine Heyser, the mass care coordinator with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.
Dormer said he received word food will arrive at his schools by Saturday. Classes begin on Monday.
"I'll feel a lot better when I see the trucks here Saturday," said Dormer who acknowledged it will be a tight turnaround but vows to be ready for Monday morning.
US Foods Allentown distribution center is hosting a job fair on Tuesday, Aug 31 from 9am-2:30pm for drivers and 4-8pm for selectors at 1200 Hoover Avenue. US Foods is providing hire incentives such as a $15,000 sign-on bonus for drivers and $4,000 sign-on bonus for experienced selectors, and health benefits on day one for qualified full-time associates. Visit the US Foods Hiring Event website to learn more.