MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two Memphis-area nonprofits are accused of using tens of thousands of dollars meant to feed hungry children, on other things.
The state said both Red Robin’s Academy of Learning, Inc. and Giving Youth a Chance participated in the Summer Food Service Program in 2018 providing free meals when school is out.
These nonprofits must fill out count sheets showing how many meals they provided to get federal reimbursement.
But the state comptroller’s office said these two nonprofits fudged the numbers asking for more money than they actually used.
“To see them happy after eating the meal, to be able to go to bed not hungry and to wake up and know that they have a meal coming from,” said Rosman Randle, in a June 2018 interview. Randle is the executive director for nonprofit Giving Youth a Chance.
The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office released investigations into his nonprofit along with Red Robin’s Academy for Learning, Inc. fraud and falsifying documents related to their Summer Food Service Programs in 2018.
In their reports, the auditors said Giving Youth a Chance wrongly obtained at least $17,601.72 in federal funding and Red Robin’s Academy for Learning, Inc. received $19,539.74 in federal funding that they shouldn’t have gotten.
The comptroller’s office said they review these programs almost annually because this kind of fraud happens so often.
“These nonprofits are relied upon to provide accurate information to the state to get meal reimbursement. they fill out essentially count sheets saying how many meals they served how may kids they served on a particular day and it’s very easy for them to inflate the numbers,” said John Dunn, Director of Communications for the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.
In these investigations, Dunn said the auditors worked with Memphis Police and set up video surveillance at various meal sites across the city.
Investigators said the video didn’t match the paperwork for these two nonprofits.
“They said they were feeding let’s say several hundred kids at a particular site well the camera showed that in fact no kids were fed at that site on that day and the meal reimbursement forms meanwhile were saying reimburse us for hundreds of meals, obviously that’s fraudulent,” said Dunn.
FOX13 Investigator Kirstin Garriss called, emailed, and even visited both nonprofits in person Tuesday afternoon.
No one picked up at Giving Youth a Chance and the licensor for Red Robin’s Academy for Learning, Inc. hung up on us.
Both agencies were closed when our crews arrived Tuesday afternoon.
The Comptroller’s office said information about what the extra money was spend on isn’t included in the report.
Additionally, the Comptroller’s office doesn’t file charges. Their reports have been forwarded to the State Attorney General, the District Attorney General of the 30th Judicial District, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee for those decisions.
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