School lunch providers face supply problems as distance learning starts ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

School lunch packs in Tallinn.
School lunch packs in Tallinn. Source: Pirita LOV

Suppliers and producers of school lunches are facing difficulties after the government's quick decision to move children to distance learning this week increased demand.

The majority of school children across the country started studying at home on Monday and local governments have started to distribute weekly food packages so they do not miss lunch.

However, ordering and assembling food packages has become difficult because suppliers and producers were not ready for such a sharp increase in demand, ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) current affairs show reported on Monday.

It is the responsibility of each school to collect and pack food. So, at the end of last week, many Estonian schools began to order food suitable for distribution.

Tartu Deputy Mayor Asko Tamme told AK: "All Tartu students will receive a large food package for this week, the money will be taken from the state school food subsidy and it will cost €20."

Similar to many larger schools, Tartu Tamme School, where more than 500 children out of almost 900 students expressed a wish for a food package, a catering company has ordered the food.

Managing director of catering company Baltic Restaurants Eesti, which supplies many schools in Estonia, Aaro Lode said it was difficult to order such large amounts of different food so quickly for the start of the week.

"Because this information came so unexpectedly and so quickly, manufacturers and suppliers were not really able to react quickly. Another thing we see is that large suppliers are very rigid and very unresponsive. If we need to speed up suddenly some items will not be provided," said Lode.

Due to these problems, the food packages will look a little different this week to what children would have been offered at school with items such as mandarins, gingerbread, canned soup and oatmeal. 

Last week the government introduced new restrictions which moved education online to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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