ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Between supply chain issues, food shortages and higher demand, there is a nationwide problem getting meals to students.

“It’s a crisis. We have a lot of demand and we have a lot of students to feed,” said St. Johns County Director of Food and Nutrition Services Sean Prevatt.

The St. Johns County School District said it served half a million lunches and a quarter-million breakfasts to students last month alone.

Prevatt said the problem started at the beginning of the pandemic and has not let up since.

“It’s pretty much all we think about every day, all day trying to secure food for student meals,” Prevatt said.

Prevatt said the district’s contract with U.S. Foodservice ends Dec. 31 and it is now scrambling to find a new one. St. Johns County is part of a 30-district bargaining group in the state that is trying to find a new food distributor, he told the school board Tuesday.

St. Johns County is not alone.

Duval County Public Schools said it is also experiencing product and staffing shortages.

In a statement, the district said it had to “slightly adjust the number of choices on our menus and reduce some offerings to ensure our cafeteria employees are focused on feeding time.”

In Clay County, the school district said “Food shortages are occurring within our school district and multiple substitutions are being made weekly in order to accommodate both breakfast and lunch menus.”

Clay County is also experiencing shortages with paper products.

“We are currently procuring various types of paper supplies, such as food trays, through emergency purchases,” the district said.

Currently, students nationwide can get free lunch regardless of income status after the USDA extended the program through June 2022.

St. Johns County said the only way it can keep up with demand at this point is to end that program in the district, which Prevatt believes will cut the number of meals they serve by as much as 30%.

“We’re thinking outside the box and outside that box as well to try and come up with different schemes and different ways to procure food and get the meals to students, it’s just a difficult thing right now. Something none of us have had to experience,” said Prevatt.

Prevatt said the district will not be ending free lunches for everyone overnight, rather they will transition back to families having to apply for free and reduced meals as they did before the pandemic.

Parents can apply for free and reduced lunch by visiting

Duval and Clay told News4Jax at this point they have no plans to end free lunch for all students.