AUSTIN (KXAN) — Preparing meals is no easy task, especially when you are getting ready for thousands of students each day.

Foodservice employees in Austin Independent School District say when there isn’t enough staff, that preparation becomes even more challenging.

Across the nation, school districts are facing food service employee shortages, and in AISD the issue is becoming critical with about 100 openings they need to fill.

AISD said while COVID-19 caused some employees to leave because of safety concerns, others have moved on to better-paying jobs.

Right now, an entry-level part-time food service employee makes $12/hour, a full-time food service employee starts at $13.50/hour and a manager trainee starts at $15/hour.

How does the district attract employees when other food industry positions are paying more?

“It is a great environment, it is a family culture, great benefits, same days off as a teacher,” said Eduardo Villa, an AISD spokesperson. “You receive medical insurance and teacher retirement system.”

The district says national suppliers who provide food to AISD are also facing food shortages, and that is causing some menus to change. The district says so far the shortage is not affecting meal quality though.

The district has started a campaign to employ more food service employees to the district.