Audit of Fort Bend ISD child nutrition program reports findings, makes suggestions

An internal audit of Fort Bend ISD’s child nutrition program found the district lacks standards to measure performance, has reoccurring net losses and compliance risks, and does not participate in a federal program that would allow entire campuses to provide free breakfasts and lunches for students.

The high-level results of the audit were presented at FBISD's board of trustees meeting Sept. 23.

Greg Gibson, of Gibson Consulting Group—the district’s internal auditor—said the district nutrition program, which serves more than 35,000 meals a day, is an important part of educating and developing children.

“Food is important for feeding the brains of our students before and during school so that they learn better and can learn more,” Gibson said. “Nutrition services is a very important element of a school’s academic program.”

The audit commended the district for improvements in the areas of managing human resources, financial performance, overall communications and asset tracking and replacement.

However, the audit found the district’s nutrition department lacks key performance indicators, known as KPIs, that measure effectiveness, efficiency and compliance.

Gibson said reoccurring losses, while declining, occur because of staffing inefficiencies; variations in meal preparation rates and costs across FBISD; the absence of per-item menu cost data necessary for complete analysis; and the absence of individual profit and loss records for each district campus. Additionally, the district faces potential compliance risks surrounding its handling of urgent communication of food safety concerns, cash processes and training record management.

The audit also noted the district does not participate in the federal Community Eligibility Provision, a program where entire schools can serve breakfast and lunch for free to all enrolled students, eliminating the need for individual families to apply for free and reduced lunches. Thirty FBISD schools are currently eligible for the program.

Superintendent Charles Dupre said the board would look into the program further and added that participation in CEP was not a priority for the previous administration.

Dupre also said because individual families do not have to submit individual applications for free and reduced lunches under CEP, the program would have implications for FBISD campuses being designated as Title I schools. The Title I designation, which qualifies certain schools for some federal funding, is based on the number of students receiving free and reduced lunches.

The audit will be available to the public following its approval by the board. In addition to Gibson Consulting Group’s full findings, the audit also includes 27 suggestions for district action and the district’s response.
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