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August 12, 2015

The Problem With The School Lunch Program

Summed up in one story about fraud committed by federal employees.

Five employees with the Government Accountability Office, and one GAO employee’s spouse, were indicted Tuesday for working to illegally obtain reduced-price lunches for their children.

The indictment resulted from the legislative branch agency’s own investigation into the school meals program, which found some of the GAO’s employees applied for the program and underreported their income to gain access to the reduced-price lunches. After the agency discovered the illegal activity, the GAO reported applications to the agency’s inspector general.

“There is no excuse for stealing funds intended to go to children whose parents cannot afford the school lunches,” Maryland’s Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said in a news release announcing the indictment. “Their actions are made even worse by the fact that some of them claimed to have not just low income, but no income at all, even though they were working full-time jobs at the GAO.”

Now I know that most kids being fed under this program need it -- certainly at the school where I teach, located in an area with a high level of poverty. But I also know that there are some kids -- including, I do not doubt, kids at my school -- whose parents under-report income to qualify the kids for free or reduced lunches.

And if a school with 2000 kids receives 1500 applications, is it really feasible for all of those applications to be thoroughly checked over the course of the first six weeks of school? Not really -- hence these well-paid federal employees trying to get benefits they didn't qualify for -- because they knew the likelihood of their being caught was close to zero.





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