New audit questions oversight of Senior Nutrition Program

A new report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor of Minnesota found that the Minnesota Board on Aging did not meet legal standards in its oversight of the Senior Nutrition Program.

The Board on Aging and seven regional area agencies on aging administer the federal program which provides meals to people aged 60 or older. 

But the OLA’s report says the board did not have “adequate internal controls to ensure compliance with significant legal requirements” for the nutrition program.

The auditor found that the state board and the Minnesota Indian Area Agency on Aging did not have the necessary documentation to support how the Indian Area Agency’s service providers calculated meal reimbursement rates.

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It also found that some providers didn’t have valid contracts with subcontractors providing services and that many contracts were not properly reviewed and approved.

Some participants in the program said they were required to pay for program meals, which is contrary to federal guidance for the program. And many agencies didn’t recertify program participants receiving program meals.

In a statement, Kari Benson, the executive director of the Minnesota Board on Aging, said the programs serve nearly 40,000 older adults across 338 sites in the state.

“The findings identified in the MBA: Senior Nutrition Program report will help guide us as we continue to improve our grant management tools and processes. As of today, the MBA can account for every senior served and every meal provided,” she said in the statement. “We have a strong fraud program in place — with the influx of COVID funding we did identify potential instances of fraud and acted quickly to address that.”

She said they will follow up on the audit findings and “evaluate our progress toward resolution.”

A public hearing on the auditor’s report is scheduled for Wednesday.