(Trenton Star-Ledger) An investigation into New Jersey’s school lunch program by the Office of the State Comptroller found “widespread fraud” among district employees and their families, who allegedly lied about their income so their kids could eat for free.

The investigation, which officials said was sparked by a series of reports by The Star-Ledger into similar lunch program abuses in the Elizabeth Board of Education, found false information on lunch program applications submitted from the households of 40 school district employees — as well as six elected school board members in Pleasantville, Newark and Paterson.

Officials in the districts could not be immediately reached for comment.

Overall, state Comptroller Matthew Boxer said his office was referring for criminal prosecution the names of 109 public employees, their spouses or family members who provided false information about their income on free lunch applications. The total amount of under-reported income was $13 million.

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