Hostess closures lead to Quincy School District bread frenzy

Students at Quincy Junior High School punch in their pin numbers during lunch. Hy Vee supplied the bread.

Hostess stores across the country closed their doors Monday, despite a late afternoon announcement that could spare the company.

Hostess Brands Inc. and its largest union agreed to further mediate a dispute about pay cuts. Talks are scheduled for Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the closures spurred more than a weekend rush to get the last Twinkies in stock. Even with the shut down on hold, schools across the country now have to find new bread suppliers. Like many others, the Quincy School District previously relied on a Wonder Bread distributor.

"We get several deliveries throughout the week so we get a lot of fresh bread. So we don't have a lot of stock on hand," Jean Kinder, with QPS Food Services said.

Kinder began making calls to her food distributor as soon as Hostess made its announcement Friday that it would stop all production.

"It seems like all schools are in the same bind that we're in, so they had very little stock left," Kinder said.

The district needed to find a quick alternative. Bread is a must have for school menus. Federal guidelines require a certain amount of grains in every meal.

"If you don't have the proper grains, we'll lose our funding," Sally Mueller, a QJHS cook, said.

One call to a local Hy-Vee put its bakery staff into overdrive.

"We had people here around the clock taking care of production and packaging and had it ready for the schools this morning when they stopped by to pick it up," Mark Lammers, the Broadway Hy Vee store manager, said.

Monday's order from the Quincy School District bumped Hy-Vee's bakery sales by 10 percent. That's not to mention the rush of orders coming in from local restaurants, fast food chains and other commercial businesses who also received products through Wonderbread.

"Now that those folks are out looking for new providers, they're coming in and just wiping out the bread rack," Lammers said.

As well as the dessert aisle. That's one food group schools won't have to compete with.

"No Twinkies ... it doesn't fit into the meal," Kinder said.

Hy-Vee will continue to help the Quincy School District for the next couple of days. It placed a special order with its own distributor for an increased number of bread products.

Meanwhile, the district continues to search for a permanent supplier.