Milk carton scarcity will exacerbate food worker shortage at Watertown schools

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The food service director at Watertown City School District said she anticipates the milk carton shortage for schools will last “at least” into February.

It will also exacerbate a shortage of food service workers at the district due to the extra work required with no half-pint, ready-to-serve cartons.

“We have a shortage in our staff, so it’s going to be hard to specifically take one person just to pour milk,” said food service director Mary C. Hughes. “We don’t have those extra people.”

The district has about 40 food service workers spread across its eight schools.

“It’s easier at Case (Middle School) and the high school because we have more employees there,” Hughes said. “Some of the elementary schools will be a struggle because at lunch time we only have one food service worker in that building. That’s where the struggle is.”

District officials had a meeting on Tuesday to develop a strategy. Superintendent Larry C. Schmiegel said the district will likely feel the effects of the milk carton shortage beginning on Tuesday.

“This is definitely a first for me,” said Schmiegel, who has been in the education field for nearly 25 years, including a stint as an elementary teacher. “It’s something that you take for granted until you don’t have it anymore. But I think what doesn’t break us makes us stronger. We’re finding a new way to kind of work around. Mary met with her team yesterday to problem-solve and to work through some of these challenges as a result of the shortage.”

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