N.J. probe finds employees lied to get students free meals

More than 100 employees or their family members provided false information on applications for the National School Lunch Program's free meals program.

July 18 — Over 100 New Jersey public employees or family members intent on gaming the system lied to get their kids free school lunches, prompting calls for criminal prosecution and re-launching a political battle over the state’s administration of the National School Lunch Program.

An investigation led by state Comptroller Matthew Boxer found 109 public employees or members of their households falsely reported income on free lunch applications over a three-year period. The misstatements came from teachers and other school employees as well as state, county and municipal employees and six current or former school board members in Newark, Paterson and Pleasantville.

“The investigation was focused on public employees because we were concerned about the ability of public employees to use their knowledge of the specific workings of the program and how it’s structured to obtain benefits for which they do not qualify,” Boxer said Wednesday.