The Loudon County School System accepted and wasted more than $1,500 of taxpayer money through the National School Lunch Program, according to an audit Tennessee Comptrollers released Monday.
Investigators said Loudon County Schools received meal reimbursements totaling $1,500.09 for meals they served to absent students. Investigators said they reviewed the daily attendance and meal history transactions of each student on the free eligibility list for the period August 8, 2017 through May 18, 2018.
This happened at Eaton Elementary School in Lenoir City, according to the audit.
No one at the Loudon County School System returned The Tennessee Star’s request for comment Monday.
“For that period, 162 breakfasts and 351 lunches were charged to a free eligible child’s account when attendance records indicated the child was absent,” Comptrollers wrote.
“This resulted in the Loudon County School District receiving excess reimbursements totaling $1,500.39, calculated at the USDA reimbursement rate of $2.09 for breakfast and $3.31 for lunch. The combined 513 breakfast and lunch meals incorrectly averaged approximately 2.8 meals per day based on Tennessee’s minimum 180 school days.”
The cafeteria manager oversaw the daily operations of the cafeteria at EES. Cafeteria collections were from classrooms and at the point of sale, according to the audit.
“The school cafeteria cashier advised that the cafeteria manger sometimes gave her a list of students to enter into the system as eating and then she disposed of the list,” Comptrollers wrote.
“However, the cafeteria manger denied providing a list to the cashier. Further, she stated they provided meals to students who were obviously not getting enough to eat. Both the cafeteria manager’s and cafeteria cashier’s employment were terminated as a result of these false meal claims.”
The results of the investigation were communicated with the Office of the District Attorney General of the Ninth Judicial District, according to the audit.
EES is one of five elementary schools operated by the Loudon County Board of Education in Loudon.
EES provides eligible students free and reduced meals through the School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program. These federally-funded meal programs operate in public and nonprofit private schools as well as residential childcare institutions.
Schools that take part in meal programs receive cash subsidies in the form of meal reimbursements from the United States Department of Agriculture.
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