That Hamburger May Be Costly (and We’re Not Talking Calories)

February 23, 2011 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

Food, glorious food! How can something so vital be such a problem? When it involves grant dollars, that’s when.

At the National Grants Management Association’s luncheon recently, I had the pleasure of discussing subrecipient monitoring issues with a D.C. state agency manager. She went in depth about one subgrantee organization that provides juvenile education and job training services that was in danger of losing its grant funding, with food being a particular culprit. As she tells it, the subgrantee officials determined that the youth participants in the program were not eating the nutritional meals — as appropriate under the grant — that they were served. Therefore, the officials opted to use grant funds to allow the students to eat fast food on a daily basis, which clearly was in violation of the agreement.  It makes no difference that the youth rejected the food they were offered; the program officials should not have been swayed in this direction. She said the program has one more month left on its grant program, and she doubted that the District would continue its relationship with the organization.

A few years back, we did a study at Thompson to see which words were used the most in our search engine. As it turns out, “food” was the top searched word.  Grantees and auditors often have different ideas about what is an allowable cost concerning food. However, in this case, the issue is not about cost allowability — it’s about inappropriate activities. Subrecipients that have any questions about whether the use of grant dollars for food is allowable should not hesitate to contact their pass-through agency to be sure.

The April issue of the Federal Grants Management Handbook newsletter will include a story on subrecipient monitoring from the NGMA luncheon. Have you experienced issues involving the allowability or inappropriate use of food? Let us know!

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