DHS

Comptroller finds more missing money in DHS nutrition programs

News release from state comptroller’s office

Comptroller Justin P. Wilson has released investigations detailing serious issues within two organizations working under the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program respectively.

The Comptroller’s Office worked in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General in its investigation of All About Giving, Inc. All About Giving, a nonprofit organization formerly located in Nashville and Knoxville, assisted daycare homes by submitting meal reimbursement requests to DHS for meals provided to children.

Investigators questioned several large cash withdrawals and expenditures made by All About Giving. Questionable expenditures included money spent on Xbox, Google Live, Big Fish Games, Shoe Carnival, Perfume Paradise, and in-state and out-of-state hotel charges. Investigators analyzed $230,569.33 of expenditures and found documentation to support only $19.60 for postage stamp purchases.

Continue reading

Haslam names Danielle Barnes as new DHS commissioner

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Danielle Whitworth Barnes as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services effective February 6.

Barnes, 41, is currently the deputy commissioner and general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Human Resources (DOHR). She will return to the Department of Human Services (DHS) to lead the agency where she started her state government career in 2004, replacing Commissioner Raquel Hatter, who last month announced plans to return to the private sector. (Note: Previous post HERE — press release then with a note on controversy surrounding Hatter.)

One of Barnes’ greatest accomplishments has been co-authoring and implementing the 2012 Tennessee Excellence, Accountability and Management (TEAM) Act, an overhaul of the state’s antiquated civil service employment practices.

Continue reading

Rep. Butt proposes ban on ice cream, cake for food stamp recipients

State Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, proposes in HB43 to prohibit use of food stamps to purchase products “high in calories, sugar, and fat without any nutritional value, including, but not limited to, soda, ice cream, candy, cookies, and cake.”

The bill provides that those buying candy, cake and ice cream with government-provided funds be required to reimburse the state Department of Human Services. Businesses caught selling the unauthorized products in exchange for food stamps would face a $1,000 fine on first offense; $2,500 on second offense; $5,000 on third and subsequent offenses.

“We have so much obesity in this state that we can’t just sit around and do nothing,” Butt tells Cari Wade Gervin, who, well, doesn’t think very highly of the proposal. Her commentary, HERE, has the headline, “Sheila Butt to the Poor: Let them not eat cake.”

On her website, Butt has a post on her proposal HERE. An excerpt:

“I go into convenience stores almost every day and see the most non-nutritional foods on the counters and in the aisles marked ‘EBT Approved.’ These are the same foods that we have banned from our children’s lunchrooms,” said Butt. “By allowing their purchase with EBT cards, we are actually enhancing diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity in at-risk communities.”

Butt takes issue with the idea that taxpayers should be subsidizing unhealthy lifestyle choices for those on public assistance programs, which she says taxpayers end up footing the bill for on the back end as well.

“Taxpayers are supporting unhealthy lifestyle choices on the front end and up paying for resulting health care costs on the back end,” explained Butt. “This is very counterproductive, counterintuitive and costly.”

Continue reading

Embattled Raquel Hatter exits as TN Human Services Commissioner

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Raquel Hatter will return to the private sector in February to work at the national level on poverty, social mobility and social justice with children, families and communities across the country.

Under her team-oriented leadership, DHS adopted the Two Gen strategy focused on addressing poverty and creating cycles of success, and the department received national recognition from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service for administration of the SNAP program. She also established the Fatherhood Initiative Office to ensure an intentional focus on whole family services when partnering with families and collaborated with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to develop an adult protective services investigation academy.

“When Raquel informed me she was leaving, my immediate thought was how much I would miss her passion and dedication to serving families and children,” Haslam said. “She brought fresh perspective and subject matter expertise to her role, taking a generational approach to solving some of the unique challenges facing Tennessee’s most vulnerable, and the State of Tennessee was extremely fortunate to have her lead the Department of Human Services over the last six years.”

Continue reading