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State auditors are questioning where more than $12 million intended to provide meals and snacks to low-income Tennessee kids went last year in a scathing audit, and blamed the leaders of the Department of Human Services for repeatedly failing to do their job overseeing the state's $80 million food program.

DHS officials, meanwhile, continued to dispute that conclusion, despite mounting evidence, including a succession of audits released by the comptroller over the last three years described similar lapses in oversight of the state's food programs; lawmakers have held hearings designed to get to the bottom of egregious cases of fraud and abuse; and, a Tennessean investigation that began in 2015 highlighted numerous cases of fraud and abuse in a program that feeds children who may not have access to regular meals in Tennessee, where more than one in four children are at risk for hunger.

DHS is responsible for distributing federal funds to nonprofit subcontractors who, in turn, are responsible for ensuring that meals and snacks are given to children and some adults with intellectual or other disabilities at day care centers, after-school programs, churches and community centers.

Read more at our news partner's website, tennessean.com.

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