Several Colombian politicians and officials from the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF) are being investigated for stealing the lunch money of some of Colombia’s poorest school children.
Last week, a mayor and six more officials in the northern Colombian province of Cesar were jailed for the misuse of funds that were allocated for a school food program.
The arrests followed complaints about the minuscule portions of food given by the children, whose parents in many cases are too poor to provide for three or even two meals a day.
One school teacher from Cesar took her complaint online and went viral showing how the children only had one potato and one nugget-size piece of chicken.
However, complaints have come from all over Colombia.
Now the Prosecutor General has turned his attention to the western province of Choco where the funds from the School Feeding Program have disappeared allegedly to fund political campaigns.
On Tuesday, prosecution officials captured two ICBF officials and three members of the Works of Mercy Foundation (Funomiser) in Quibdo, the capital of Choco.
The arrests are related to alleged embezzling of funds intended for the attention of children under five as well as pregnant women.
The suspects must respond to the authorities on charges of embezzlement, procedural fraud, forgery of private documents, falsifying a public document and malfeasance.
Sadly, these problems in the provision of food service to schools are nothing new.
The Funomiser foundation took over the school feeding programs in Choco in September last year, after the government removed the Fungescol company, which had also been embezzling the kids’ lunch money.
However, no more than two months after Funomiser took over food provision in Choco, new complaints about corruption began to emerge.
The first was in November last year, when about 100 kindergartners were moved to three medical centers in Quibdo after being poisoned with breakfast provided to them by the foundation.
After that, it was uncovered that Funomiser was questioned, among other things for having alleged ties to drug trafficking.
Complaints about corrupt and greedy politicians are reportedly stealing children’s food in at least seven of Colombia’s 32 provinces, which has become a particularly urgent as drought caused by weather phenomenon El Niño has already made food more expensive and even scarce in remote areas.
But even without exotics weather phenomena like El Niño, Colombia’s children have it rough; one out of every 10 kids in the country suffers malnutrition, according to UNICEF.