Taxpayer Waste Alleged at Yet Another Tennessee Public School Cafeteria


Officials in Bartlett, in Shelby County, went $90,000 over budget with their School Nutrition Fund, according to an audit Tennessee Comptrollers released this week.

In their audit, Comptrollers scolded city officials and said expenditures must remain within the assigned budget.

“We recommend that Bartlett City Board of Education either delay expenditures or appropriately amend the budget,” auditors wrote.

But in a written response, city officials said revenue amounts collected also exceeded the budget and sufficiently covered additional expenditures.

“In the future, Board approval will be sought when expenditures exceed the approved budget,” city officials wrote without elaborating.

This is not the first time of late that government officials in Tennessee allegedly mismanaged school cafeterias.

As The Tennessee Star reported last year, a school cafeteria manager in Sullivan County stole ice cream money from kindergartners and spent it on herself.

This woman, Deborah Beckman, did other things she wasn’t supposed to do. Beckman, the cafeteria manager at Ketron Elementary School in Kingsport, took at least $758 someone donated to the school to pass out ice cream to the tiny tots at no charge, state auditors said.

To do this, Comptrollers said Beckman diverted cash collections for her personal benefit and then concealed it by putting in its place either cafeteria cash collected on the next day or cash from personal or other unknown sources.

Investigators were able to determine that from January 2017 through November 2017, Beckman delayed deposits of over $15,000, extending her access to use these funds for her personal use.

Beckman also routinely signed the initials of other cafeteria employees on cafeteria deposit slips without their knowledge or consent. That, auditors wrote, enabled her to misappropriate money from daily deposits without prompt detection.

Also as reported last year, parents with children in the Monroe County School System revolted against the government-funded National School Lunch Program after their kids found what were either maggots or mites in their cafeteria food.

According to, seventh-graders at Madisonville Public School found what they initially thought were maggots in the granola sold at their cafeteria. Another report said the students found mites instead. Chattanooga’s News Channel 9 reported school officials investigated and found no more bugs.

Those same school officials apologized in a Facebook post and assured parents this would never happen again. In that same Facebook post, they said the school cafeteria received a score of 97 on its most recent health inspection.

But a few days later, according to published reports, the insects made an encore performance.

This time, Knoxville TV affiliate WBIR said a student found a bug in his school-provided breakfast. The student reportedly captured it on video.

Parents were so upset they took the matter up at the next school board meeting, according to Reason. One parent told News Channel 9 she would pack her daughter’s lunch from now on instead of having her eat cafeteria food.

As The Star reported in August, officials with the Loudon County School System accepted and wasted more than $1,500 of taxpayer money through the National School Lunch Program.

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.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]




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One Thought to “Taxpayer Waste Alleged at Yet Another Tennessee Public School Cafeteria”

  1. 83ragtop50

    The national school lunch program is a big waste of tax payer money. The “free”meal provided by many Tennessee schools should be stopped immediately.