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State Seeks Crackdown On Free Meal Programs After Fraudsters Allegedly Stole Millions For Cars, Houses And Luxury Buys

The Minnesota Department of Education is looking to implement regulations and oversight on its low-income youth meal program after more than 60 people allegedly used millions of taxpayer dollars to purchase items like luxury cars and lakefront homes, according to the Star Tribune.

The state Department of Education has proposed rules that would implement oversight of organizations participating in its Child and Adult Care Food Program, mandate training for groups and bar newly created meal-sponsoring nonprofits from receiving state funds, according to the Star Tribune. The push comes after more than 60 people from “Feeding Our Future,” a nonprofit that partners with the state department of education to feed low-income youth, were allegedly found participating in a fraud scheme, taking more than $250 million meant to provide meals.

“These are things that we think will … increase the integrity and performance of the programs,” Daron Korte, assistant education commissioner, told the outlet. “Would it have prevented fraud? I guess I can’t speculate on that.”

The proposed legislation aims to control the size of organizations like Feeding our Future by prohibiting many satellite locations, the Star Tribune reported. Under the rules, if organizations want to open multiple locations they must provide their tax returns and financial statements before they apply for state funds.

Since September 2022, at least 60 Feeding Our Future members have been charged after allegedly forging reimbursement sheets and invoices to appear as if the organization was serving thousands more people than it was, the Star Tribune reported. The money, rather being used to feed low-income students, was being spent on luxury items such as cars and real estate properties.

About $66.6 million in assets such as real estate and vehicles have been found in connection to the alleged Feeding Out Future fraud scheme, according to the Star Tribune.

“We want to make sure there are safeguards and that we’re holding these organizations accountable,” Democratic state Rep. Laurie Pryor told the outlet. “These are commonsense ideas.”

The Minnesota Department of Education did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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