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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Kapiolani Community College's Culinary Arts kitchen is a classroom for future chefs. Their ingredients to create come from about 60 suppliers.
"We'll order different types of products, for the fine dining restaurant, for the cafeteria," Culinary Arts chairperson Ronald Takahashi said.
He oversees orders to vendors but he can't pay the bill because that's done by the University of Hawaii.
"I can't write a check," he said. "We encumber funds and then we submit invoices for payment."
Some suppliers are 120 days past due on receiving payments. Others are 30 to 60 days past due. Some have stopped supplying food. Some KCC students are noticing.
"This past week I've noticed that the chips haven't been refilled, and sometimes condiments as well," Aliyah Flowe said.
"I haven't seen really many beef items either," said Hunter Kaye, who gets his meals at the campus cafeteria.
Takahashi blames the supplier situation on growing pains with the university's new Kuali financial system. Plus, Manoa's bill paying office closes periodically. He said when UH is on break, KCC's dining room is still open and ordering from vendors.
"It's normally the smaller vendors that have the hardest time. We understand it 100 percent. And we feel so sorry that we cannot pay them on a timely basis," he said.
Takahashi said culinary students lessons aren't affected because chef instructors teach them to work around limitations. And if one vendor stops supplying a product, he tries to get it from another.
"Some of our customers may notice it because certain things they expect on the menu, they may not see it," he said.
Kuali was activated last July. Takahashi believes the system will work smoothly when the kinks are ironed out. He said suppliers understand.
"We have the money. It's just trying to get it paid to them," he said.
He's working with UH to prioritize which vendors get paid first, and hopes all past due accounts will be paid in full by the end of the month.