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U.S. Agriculture Secretary weighs in on lunch fraud

Tom Vilsack, U.S. secretary of agriculture, delivers the commencement address during Albany State University’s commencement exercises at the Albany Civic Center.

Tom Vilsack, U.S. secretary of agriculture, delivers the commencement address during Albany State University’s commencement exercises at the Albany Civic Center.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Asked about recent school lunch fraud allegations in the Dougherty County School System, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said his office is taking steps to prevent fraud.

In an exclusive interview with The Albany Herald after speaking at the Albany State University 2012 graduation Vilsack had only a few minutes to talk.

"With 32 million children in 100,000 school districts it is a challenge," Vilsack said. "We are working on more auditing and working with the states in this area."

Vilsack said he expects school lunch fraud to drop with the tighter auditing, just as fraud has dropped in locations with a computer matching system that matches students to qualifying data.

Recently Dougherty County School Board member Velvet Riggins was accused of felony falsifying information on free or reduced-cost school lunch applications.

Morningside Elementary Principal Gloria Baker was indicted on three felony counts and her husband John Baker also faces felony counts in connection with alleged fraud on lunch qualifying paperwork.

All three were indicted on providing false information to obtain free school meals for a child, a misdemeanor.

Comments

Trustbuster 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm glad to Mr. Vilsach finally acknowledges the abuse within this govt. program. The School Lunch Program probably should be replaced with local state qualifications that can meet the true nature of accountability. The fact that a local school board member and principal committed fraud indicates a true lack of accountability. I was always led to believe that eligibility was checked by researching IRS tax base. The entitlement society prevails again!

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whattheheck 1 year, 11 months ago

All talk and no action. Typical bureaucratic response to a problem--we are working on it. I have read what actions are proposed and the basic problem will not be eliminated. Locally, things may change a little next year if Baker and Riggins get penalized but don't hold your breath.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 11 months ago

VileSack knows that his Boss doesn't want ANYTHING done to cut back on handouts to those who are eager to trade Votes for Cash. Interesting that ViseSack made a Bee-Line to Doublegate Country Club after his speech, presumably for free drinks from the local "white-guilt" crowd.

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