NYC

New York City Schools Overspent $400,000 On Food

12/14/2011 11:10 am ET

A new audit conducted by City Comptroller John Liu reports New York City schools overspent more than $400,000 in food last year.

Most of the overspending was traced back to markups as high as 890 percent for food items that include parsley, radishes, and scallions.

The audit found that in one out of every five items purchased, the Department of Education overpaid by at least 50 percent of the item's wholesale value.

Matthew Sweeney of the Comptroller's Office expressed more concern for the $113 million for which the Department of Education received receipts, but "never looked inside the bags to see if the groceries were there."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said a cursory overview of the audit revealed various inaccuracies, but agreed that the report did "provide the opportunities to further improve operations."

The Daily News reports that the city serves more than 850,000 meals a day, using six-year contracts with four food companies totaling $353 million.

Earlier this month, it was reported that schools across the country were paying well over their means by having to go through third-party food processors in order to convert fresh food products into fried, unhealthy meals, despite recent efforts challenging current lunch programs to provide healthier food options for children.

Such deals between the nation's schools and third-party food processors accounts for almost $1 billion annually.

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