A Los Angeles food services director who was invited to the White House by former First Lady Michelle Obama to share his tips for getting kids to eat healthy has been indicted for stealing $65,000 in public funds.
David Binkle, a chef who served as the director of food services for Los Angeles Unified School District until he was fired in 2015, was charged last week with multiple counts of embezzlement, misappropriation of public funds, conflict of interest, forgery, and perjury, the L.A. Times reported.
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In 2014, Binkle traveled to the White House for a nutrition roundtable with Mrs. Obama. Binkle bragged that he had replaced chicken nuggets with edamame in L.A. schools. He posted as a guest blogger on Mrs. Obama's Let's Move website, and thanked the former first lady for pushing uniform standards in school cafeterias that cut sodium and mandated whole grains.
A year later an inspector general investigation accused Binkle of misappropriating school funds, and he was removed from his job.
Binkle now faces charges of siphoning $65,000 off school lunch program funding into his private culinary consulting firm and a personal bank account, the L.A. Times reported. As food services director he earned a $152,000 salary.
On the Let's Move website in May 2014, Binkle bemoaned the life of elite millionaires living in Los Angeles.
"The city of Los Angeles is known all around the world for Hollywood, Beverly Hills, celebrities as well as glitz and glamour," he wrote. "There are more than 125,000 millionaires and more than 20 billionaires in this city I now call home. But the reality is there is still a big discrepancy in quality of life between the elite and the majority of students I serve as food services director at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the country."
Binkle said kids in Los Angeles were living in "food deserts" and praised the healthy meal initiatives he implemented that went beyond Mrs. Obama's 2010 school lunch law.
"Today, we no longer serve items like flavored milk, chicken nuggets, tater tots, corn dogs, pizza, and nachos," he wrote. "Today, what we do serve are atypical ‘kid-friendly items': edamame, jicama sticks, teriyaki chicken bowls, turkey and vegetarian burgers as well as fresh fruits and vegetables."
Binkle also gave a TED Talk for his healthy eating push and received applause for banning pizza.
"We don't even serve peanut butter and jelly," he said.