Five employees of a federal government watchdog agency, one of whom is a member of the Prince George’s County school board, were indicted Tuesday on charges of illegally obtaining reduced-price school lunches for their children, officials said.
Prosecutors allege that the employees, all with the Government Accountability Office, along with the spouse of a separate GAO worker, fraudulently reported their incomes to qualify for the discounted meals offered by the federal government. And officials said there may be nearly 300 other federal workers flagged for similar concerns of fraud.
The alleged theft by the six people cost the government $13,000 over four years, according to county and federal officials.
“This is a program for people who can’t afford it, but these are people who can,” said John Erzen, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Lynette Mundey, who is a Prince George’s Board of Education member, and five others were charged with theft, fraud and filing false applications, prosecutors said. Others charged were Barbara Rowley, Jamilah Reid, Tracy Williams, Charlene Savoy and James Pinkney, the spouse of a GAO employee
This little mini-bust is just the tip of the iceberg. The free lunch program might be one of the best conceived ideas in public education. Hungry kids don’t learn. However, there is just not enough oversight. Kids wearing Jordans are dropped off from Escalades to go down to free breakfast in the morning. That just isn’t right.
Perhaps free lunch and breakfast needs to be tied to SNAP cards or WIC more closely than it is. Currently, it pretty much is the parents’ word. The Prince William County Schools form lists the eligibility requirements. I question where the verification is. Who checks up on these things? I believe that the cafeteria managers are the keepers of such information. The application says that they are checked but I simply do not believe it, based on what I have personally witnessed.
The free and reduced lunch program began in 1946, right after WWII. It is a great program for the needy and many a poor child has been saved from hunger because of this federal program. What a shame that miscreants and crooks are abusing a program set up for needy school children. Shame on them. I hope those that were caught go to jail. They knew what they were doing, especially the school board member. She deserves a special room in Hell.