The New Jersey State Comptroller has issued a new report that finds widespread fraud in New Jersey’s school lunch program.

After an investigation of 15 school districts, the names of 83 public sector employees, along with 26 family members were referred to the State Division of Criminal Justice for prosecution.

“Investigators found false information on applications submitted by school board members, teachers, other school employees, as well as state, county and local employees, so what we found are people who work for the government lying to the government about how much the government is paying them,” said State Comptroller Matt Boxer during a news conference this morning.

He said many people claimed they were confused about the application, even though it was very clear, and many of the income questions were repeatedly ignored.

Boxer also points out this widespread abuse had not been detected earlier because it turns out, “Only 3 percent of the applications submitted to school districts are actually verified, the other 97 percent of applications generally are not subject to verification at all – and those applicants never have to submit any pay stubs or other proof of income.”

Those convicted of lying on federal school lunch applications could face jail time.

After the report was issued, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver released a statement saying, “This program is among the best anti-poverty efforts the nation has put forth and is vital to young children who desperately need proper nutrition to learn and thrive. To see it subject to such abuse is infuriating.”