Kudos to AgeSmart Community Resources for yanking the $300,000 yearly grant it provided to the Clyde Jordan Food Bank in East St. Louis.
With social-service agencies scrambling for dollars these days, it’s important to make sure they’re being spent wisely. This food bank has some question marks.
First, there’s Oliver Hamilton, who is the East St. Louis township supervisor and serves on the food bank’s board. Federal agents seized financial documents from the township earlier this month after the News-Democrat reported that Hamilton spent $84,970 on a township American Express card for purchases such as airline tickets to Las Vegas, more than $33,000 in construction supplies and $11,000 in gasoline.
Then there’s East St. Louis Township administrator Yvette Johnson, who was convicted in 2006 of vote fraud. She has been the bookkeeper for the food bank.
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And then there’s June Hamilton-Dean, who is Hamilton’s sister. Hamilton-Dean used to draw a paycheck from the food bank until early 2015, for serving as the food bank’s financial consultant. She also is paid $33,000 a year for serving as a financial consultant for the township.
And finally, the food bank has been delinquent in providing financial reports to AgeSmart.
AgeSmart instead will shift the $300,000 grant to the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House in East St. Louis, which will use the money for a food program.
AgeSmart’s leader said the decision had nothing to do with the federal investigation of East St. Louis Township. Instead, it’s because the financial reports haven’t been provided in a timely fashion, according to AgeSmart.
It’s unfortunate that the grant is being removed from what should be a good program. The Clyde Jordan Food Bank feeds the needy and elderly through daily lunches, a meals-on-wheels program and a food pantry. Nearly half of East St. Louis’ population lives below the federal poverty level.
AgeSmart administers grants for food programs, such as food banks and Meals on Wheels, for seven counties. We commend AgeSmart’s leaders for making sure the recipients are on the up-and-up.