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School Lunch Program Ripe with "Mistakes"

chanel

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Here's a dirty little secret about the free/reduced lunch program. It's an "honor system". Unfortunately, many of the same people who don't feed their kids, are also dishonest. Anyone surprised by this?
School records obtained by The Star-Ledger show that kids of two other high-level officials in the heavily state-supported district also eat for little or nothing — even though the parents’ gross incomes appear to exceed federal income-eligibility limits set by the federal government.

Under federal income-eligibility rules, which take into account both the number of children and total income, a family of four cannot earn more than $29,055 to qualify for a free lunch and $41,348 for a reduced-price meal, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

State officials said schools also have a direct certification process in which students whose families are receiving food stamps or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits automatically qualify to receive a free lunch.

State and federal officials acknowledge there is little monitoring statewide of those who receive assistance under the federal lunch program.

According to the Inspector General’s Office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there have been no recent audits of any New Jersey school districts.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture said only a small number of all applications for free or reduced-cost lunches are actually reviewed and most are accepted without challenge.

"Schools are required to verify 3 percent of their applications, focusing on those in which the income is near the income threshold," said the spokeswoman, Lynne Richmond. "The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that applications are taken at face value

Mistakes on applications statewide for the federal lunch program are not uncommon. A June report by the state auditor found a significant error rate in the districts it tested that would have disqualified some families.

"We didn’t classify it as fraud," explained state Auditor Stephen M. Eells.

In 2006, a private school in Lakewood agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle claims that it overbilled the government for lunch program subsidies.

That same year, a Hudson County nonprofit organization paid more than $469,000 to settle allegations that it submitted false certifications for lunch subsidies.

Nationally, there have been 10 investigations into the National School Lunch Program over the past five years that resulted in one indictment, three convictions and the recovery of $25.6 million — mostly from civil judgments

Elizabeth school officials' kids don't pay full meal costs, records show | NJ.com

The federal government funds school breakfast and lunch programs at 80,000 public schools across the nation. The lunch program covers 30 million children, and the breakfast program covers about 8 million children. Federal spending on the two food programs, which provide free and low-cost meals, was $16 billion in fiscal 2009.21

Food Subsidies | Downsizing the Federal Government

80,000 public schools and 10 investigations in 5 years. And the first lady wants mo money for the program.

Anyone see a problem????
 
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chanel

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Yes. I believe 4 billion. Perhaps I should have typed "my money".

But school officials say that's not nearly enough to comply with the new health regs.

So what's the solution? Should school secretaries check tax returns?
 
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chanel

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Notorious B.I.G., “Mo Money, Mo Problems” (1997)

The debt crisis is a big issue. Biggie was a big man. This song was a big hit. And the sentiment is unimpeachable: “I don’t know what they want from me / It’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see.”

Read more News Desk: Mo Money, Mo Problems: Songs for the Debt Standoff : The New Yorker


[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAOUbr2HEpo&feature=player_embedded]Biggie Smalls feat Mase & Puff Daddy - Mo Money Mo Problems - YouTube[/ame]
 

Ravi

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Thank goodness for the investigative press.

The idiots in your story should be fired.
 
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chanel

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They won't be. But hopefully this will be a wakeup call to the other scammers who I am sure are out there. Anyone who works in a school knows how easy it is.

But you are right. I give kudos to the Star Ledger who has exposed a lot of waste and corruption in NJ politics.

TANF and food stamp recipients are automatically enrolled. Perhaps we need to do away with the rest. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich should be available to any kid who doesn't have lunch - regardless of income.

A billion here; a billion there. Pretty soon you're talking about a lot of money.
 

editec

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Oh my GOD school children are eating food!

Those parasites!
 
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chanel

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Stop it editec. This isn't about hungry kids and you know it.

It's about a system with no accountability. Perhaps if they limited it to truly hungry kids, they'd get more than slop. Wouldn't that make more sense?
 
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Stop it editec. This isn't about hungry kids and you know it.

It's about a system with no accountability. Perhaps if they limited it to truly hungry kids, they'd get more than slop. Wouldn't that make more sense?

What you mean the big bad conservatives don't want little babies to starve? I am shocked!
 
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chanel

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Nope. Contrary to the lies heard around the world, conservatives don't want to see babies starve. We like clean water and air too. :lol:

Comcast is now offering internet to low income families who have kids on free lunch. I haven't seen the application, but I imagine if a copy of the lunch form is all they need, this will entice even more scammers.

Originally laid out as the Comcast Broadband Opportunity Program, the plan offers internet access for only $10 a month to families with children who qualify for free lunch programs. Taking its commitment even further, the outfit is offering a $150 voucher for the purchase of a computer, access to free digital literacy training, and a Norton Security Suite.

Comcast's Internet Essentials offers $10 internet access to low-income families -- Engadget

Should Comcast subscribers subsidize the cable bills of illegal aliens and fraudsters? My Comcast bill is outrageous.
 

editec

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Stop it editec. This isn't about hungry kids and you know it.

It's about a system with no accountability. Perhaps if they limited it to truly hungry kids, they'd get more than slop. Wouldn't that make more sense?

What is the total amount of the school nutrition programs, Chanel?

Does it annually cost this nation more than one days worth of wasted effort in Afghanistan and Iraq?

I sincerely doubt it.

THAT is why I mock this thread and the so called concern that some of us have about this waste.

Put this tempest in teacup problem into perspective and get back to me, okay?
 
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Stop it editec. This isn't about hungry kids and you know it.

It's about a system with no accountability. Perhaps if they limited it to truly hungry kids, they'd get more than slop. Wouldn't that make more sense?

What is the total amount of the school nutrition programs, Chanel?

Does it annually cost this nation more than one days worth of wasted effort in Afghanistan and Iraq?

I sincerely doubt it.

THAT is why I mock this thread and the so called concern that some of us have about this waste.

Put this tempest in teacup problem into perspective and get back to me, okay?

So your logic is that because you believe we 'wasted money' in Iraq and Afghanistan, that means fraud is ok? Well, that is an interesting perspective. Not terribly intelligent, but interesting in a 'I can't believe anyone raised in the US can be THAT stupid' kind of way.
 
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chanel

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The House version of the bill, the "Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act," was approved last month by the Education and Labor Committee but the full House has yet to take it up. The House version is more expansive and would provide $8 billion for school nutrition programs, a figure more in line with the president's request for an unprecedented $10 billion in the FY2011 budget to overhaul the Child Nutrition Act.

"Calls for long-term increases in spending on school meal programs are irresponsible," Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, testified before a House hearing last month.

"I have spent my entire career ... on this kind of spending and I can tell you I absolutely have no idea where all that money goes," Rector said. "Before you propose spending even more money, you ought to at least have a reasonable accounting of where this money is currently going."

In an effort to combat hunger, it would also raise the number of children eligible for free or reduced-cost meals and expand after-school snack programs to provide full meals.


Healthier School Lunches: Senate Approves $4.5 Billion Bill; Michelle Obama Applauds it - ABC News

A billion here, a billion there, does not a "tempest in a teapot" make. :cool:
 
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This whole thing makes me cringe. The issue I personally have in putting my children under the care of others for the entire day is one thing, but to trust that they will also see to it that they eat the best affordable foods available is something else... If 'our' monies are to be allotted any where it should be toward 'our' children.

Is there any place it would be better invested? Obviously not IMO. The educational system is a REQUIREMENT. It is not an OPTION. Don't skimp on feeding those who are REQUIRED to be there is my advice... as for the accountability of the application process... Really? Why are our children not 'paid' to attend school? Are they really being taught or are they learning for themselves? Hmmm. I homeschooled several years and did so without a great deal of books so my opinion of such is far different, I'm sure, than most others would be. :evil:
 
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chanel

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Well the story is generating a lot of talk. Looks like these three may be the poster children for nepotism and corruption in the schools. But my gut is telling me they will come down hard on them to show the public they are "doing something", while sweeping the obvious under the carpet. The entire system needs to be audited. Not just in Elizabeth. Not just in NJ. But nationwide. This is the tip of the iceberg.

The governor's office has asked the Elizabeth school district and "other authorities" to look into allegations that some of its high-ranking officials signed their children up for free and subsidized lunches paid for by taxpayers.

Four New Jersey lawmakers Monday also urged state and federal authorities to investigate the matter, and the district's own lawyers said applications for the federally financed program — intended to help low-income families — would be reviewed.

Elizabeth school lunch discounts come under scrutiny; N.J. officials call for investigation | NJ.com
 
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chanel

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In case anyone was wondering how much that "free" turkey sandwich really costs:

How much does that cost taxpayers? The state provides an extra $4,700 to $5,700 for each child in the lunch program. That works out to potentially almost $1 billion in aid. So this is not about the cost of a subsidized hamburger. The scandal in Elizabeth opens the door to a much bigger problem.

The root problem is that people in charge of verifying these lunch numbers are the school district officials themselves — those with the most interest in inflating them.

Not surprisingly, thousands of students being counted may actually be ineligible, according to a June report by the state auditor. Of the 428,000 signed up last year, an estimated 37 percent did not actually qualify based on their applications.

Comments on N.J. needs new way to allocate state school aid | The Star-Ledger Editorial Page - Page 2 - NJ.com
 

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