Data from North Carolina school districts suggest that some parents lie about their income when applying for the federal government's free and reduced-lunch program. But food nutrition officials have banned districts from verifying income beyond a narrow 3 percent window. Carolina Journal investigates why and explores how much F&R lunch fraud could be costing taxpayers.
(2.09.12) Republicans Grill Education Official on School Lunch Fraud
RALEIGH — In recent months, the question of fraud in the federal government’s second largest nutrition entitlement has reached critical mass in Illinois and Georgia, where school officials are trying to weed out cheaters.
(3.14.11) Feds Differ on Release of School Lunch Data
RALEIGH — The disagreement could lead to better clarity on whether school districts can use the federal government’s free and reduced-price lunch program as a substitute for poverty in student assignments. Wake schools adopted that policy a decade ago after courts outlawed assignment strategies based on race.
(12.14.10) School Lunch Reauthorization Fails to Address Potential Fraud
RALEIGH — Although much of critics’ firepower has been leveled at the bill’s expansion of federal power, another objection is that it falls short in addressing potential fraud.
(2.17.10) Mystery Meat Could Be Reality in N.C. School Districts
RALEIGH — State and local nutrition officials don’t check whether commodities donated by the federal government, amounting to 12.5 million pounds in North Carolina for the 2009-10 school year, are high quality, or even whether they’re safe for kids to eat.
(10.08.09) Congress Leaves School Lunch Fraud Question on Sidelines
RALEIGH — Congress could soon act on bills that would devote more taxpayer funds to the programs and expand eligibility for students — even while questions about the reliability of one entitlement, the free and reduced-price lunch program, remain.
(4.21.09) Report: One-Fifth of Students Ineligible for Meal Programs
RALEIGH — A sour economy is prompting more families to enroll in subsidized school nutrition programs, but new data from Mathematica Policy Research finds that one-fifth of students get benefits that don’t match their economic circumstances.
(11.12.08) Half of Sampled School Lunch Applicants Can’t Prove Eligibility
RALEIGH — A majority of sampled applicants enrolled in the free and reduced-price lunch program in North Carolina can’t prove eligibility to participate, according to verification summaries from the state’s 115 school districts.
(10.21.08) Confusion Reigns on School Lunch Guidelines
RALEIGH — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been slow to respond to requests for clarification on whether a local school district can conduct a comprehensive audit of its free and reduced-lunch program if officials suspect widespread cheating among applicants.
(10.07.08) Food Fight Erupts in Char-Meck Schools
RALEIGH — Board of Education members in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are in a political tug of war over whether to conduct a comprehensive audit of the district’s free and reduced-lunch program after a verification review found two-thirds of students ineligible to participate.
(7.21.08) There IS a Free Lunch — In Schools
RALEIGH — Many families in North Carolina lie about their income when applying for the free and reduced-lunch program in public schools, and a lack of oversight by government officials allows the fraud to go unchecked, an investigation by Carolina Journal shows.