Comptroller finds more missing money in DHS nutrition programs

News release from state comptroller’s office

Comptroller Justin P. Wilson has released investigations detailing serious issues within two organizations working under the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program respectively.

The Comptroller’s Office worked in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General in its investigation of All About Giving, Inc. All About Giving, a nonprofit organization formerly located in Nashville and Knoxville, assisted daycare homes by submitting meal reimbursement requests to DHS for meals provided to children.

Investigators questioned several large cash withdrawals and expenditures made by All About Giving. Questionable expenditures included money spent on Xbox, Google Live, Big Fish Games, Shoe Carnival, Perfume Paradise, and in-state and out-of-state hotel charges. Investigators analyzed $230,569.33 of expenditures and found documentation to support only $19.60 for postage stamp purchases.

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Rep. Butt drops bill to ban buying sweets with food stamps

News release from Rep. Shelia Butt

NASHVILLE, Jan. 17, 2017– Last week, State Rep. Sheila Butt (R-Columbia) introduced legislation seeking a waiver from the federal government to change the way public assistance dollars are spent on food. Due to ongoing discussions regarding this very issue in the newly GOP controlled federal government under an incoming Trump administration, Butt is pulling the legislation in hopes of federal action.

“Last week I introduced a Bill, (HB43) for the Tennessee State Legislature to consider this sJession that, if enacted, would have limited the “junk food” or non-nutritional caloric foods that could be purchased with what we call SNAP (or food stamp) benefits on an EBT card. (Note: Previous post, somewhat expanded from the original version, is HERE.)

Just this past week the USDA published a detailed report showing that the number one item being bought with SNAP benefits are soft drinks,” said Butt. “The report shows that the No. one purchases by SNAP households are soft drinks, which account for 5% of the dollars they spend on food. The category of ‘sweetened beverages’ which includes sugar-added juices, energy drinks and sweetened teas, accounted for almost 10% of the dollars spent on food.”

“In this sense, SNAP is a multibillion-dollar taxpayer subsidy of the soda industry,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.

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Rep. Butt proposes ban on ice cream, cake for food stamp recipients

State Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, proposes in HB43 to prohibit use of food stamps to purchase products “high in calories, sugar, and fat without any nutritional value, including, but not limited to, soda, ice cream, candy, cookies, and cake.”

The bill provides that those buying candy, cake and ice cream with government-provided funds be required to reimburse the state Department of Human Services. Businesses caught selling the unauthorized products in exchange for food stamps would face a $1,000 fine on first offense; $2,500 on second offense; $5,000 on third and subsequent offenses.

“We have so much obesity in this state that we can’t just sit around and do nothing,” Butt tells Cari Wade Gervin, who, well, doesn’t think very highly of the proposal. Her commentary, HERE, has the headline, “Sheila Butt to the Poor: Let them not eat cake.”

On her website, Butt has a post on her proposal HERE. An excerpt:

“I go into convenience stores almost every day and see the most non-nutritional foods on the counters and in the aisles marked ‘EBT Approved.’ These are the same foods that we have banned from our children’s lunchrooms,” said Butt. “By allowing their purchase with EBT cards, we are actually enhancing diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity in at-risk communities.”

Butt takes issue with the idea that taxpayers should be subsidizing unhealthy lifestyle choices for those on public assistance programs, which she says taxpayers end up footing the bill for on the back end as well.

“Taxpayers are supporting unhealthy lifestyle choices on the front end and up paying for resulting health care costs on the back end,” explained Butt. “This is very counterproductive, counterintuitive and costly.”

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TN politicians, bureaucrats pack 50,000 meals for food banks

Members from all three state branches of Tennessee state government packed 50,000 meals in 90 minutes for state food banks on Wednesday, reports WTVF-TV.

It was all part of the General Assembly Nutrition Caucus’s “Campaign Against Hunger” which restocks food banks after the holiday season nearly wipes them out.

“You know, food insecurity, let’s call it what it is, hunger, is a problem in Tennessee just like every state, and it’s really unacceptable to us so we do what we can to help alleviate that. We provide funding each year for several food banks statewide but this gives some extra oompf,” said Senator Mark Norris.


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