2 school cafeteria workers waste 1,500 school lunches to pad paycheck

LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- A state audit found that two cafeteria workers took advantage of a school lunch program in Lynnwood, using food that was meant for the kids to commit fraud.

Every lunch served up in the Edmonds School District is partially paid for through federal grants. The program makes sure school kids get a nutritious meal to help them through a day of learning.

However, an investigation at College Place Elementary found two cafeteria workers were using school lunches to line their own pockets.

The school district's own internal reviews first caught the discrepancy, which was then forwarded to the state auditor's office. A district spokeswoman says two cafeteria workers teamed-up to make more lunches than needed for the number of students, then billed the government for their time.

"Sadly it's a pittance to kind of ruin your reputation on," said D.J. Jakala with the Edmonds School District.

It's unclear how much money the two workers made from inflated food orders, but the district knows the women wasted more than 1,500 lunches just to pad their paychecks. The two workers put in the hours to make all the meals, it's just no one was ever meant to eat them.

"The food was disposed of by the employees so that their inventory remained neutral," Jakala said.

The district spokeswoman says both women resigned when confronted with the evidence. The district now has to pay back the federal government, but there are no plans to pursue criminal charges against the workers.

One parent thinks it's all a shameful waste.

"It could have gone for the homeless," said Rahnda Watson. "It could have gone somewhere else."

So far, the district is on the hook to pay back nearly $4,500, but investigators are still finalizing the exact amount owed.