Tennessee Program to Feed Hungry Children Falters due to Fraud, Incompetence

As many as 1 in 4 children living in Tennessee are at risk of hunger, which is why the Department of Human Services has been contracting with various non-profits around the state to help provide those children with meals and snacks. Unfortunately, the process has had significant problems.

Now, Building Futures, one of the non-profits previously contracted, is suing DHS for wrongful termination, after the agency claimed that Building Futures was one of a number of groups that were delivering less food that promised, and pocketing the leftover cash. Lawyers for Building Futures have declined to say anything specific about the case, but have said that they aren’t one of the groups doing that.

According to The Tennessean, a number of the other groups associated with the program have been fraudulent, and some even have fraud convictions in other states. Building Futures is actually based in Arkansas, and due to their termination by DHS, they can’t work with similar programs in either state. Building Futures even went so far as to replay DHS almost $20,000 dollars that the agency claimed the overcharged, all while maintaining that they didn’t overcharge DHS or defraud them.

DHS has it’s own problems as well. They’ve faced criticism over poor management of this and other programs, which doesn’t seem surprising considering how much fraud seems to be happening. Carmen Gentry, former director of DHS, resigned in July. She claimed that DHS has failed to improve their internal processes, and that they don’t have any kind of consistent, computerized tracking of their programs, despite requests from within and without DHS to do exactly that.

Between the internal problems of DHS, and the potential for outright fraud by unscrupulous “charities” that saw the opportunity to rip off the State of Tennessee, it’s not surprising that the program has failed to achieve it’s goals. Of course, the real victims are the hungry children who haven’t been helped because of greed, incompetence, or both.