- Instagram / cre8ameal
- A federal committee says San Antonio's CRE8AD8 “did not have significant experience in the type of food distribution called for"
A study released by congressional Democrats from the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis raises new questions about the quality of the San Antonio company's work as a vendor in the Trump administration's Farmers to Families program — and its qualifications to land the deal.
CRE8AD8 “did not have significant experience in the type of food distribution" needed to fulfill the pact, according to the report. What's more, the document notes, the company's performance had "significant negative consequences for nonprofit organizations" trying to help people suffering from food insecurity.
The Current contacted CRE8AMEAL — the arm of CRE8AD8 established to carry out the federal contract — but received no immediate comment on the report.
The 63-page study examined the failures of CRE8AD8 and two other "unqualified" companies that won $97.5 million in taxpayer-funded contracts under the Trump White House's program.
Investigators called CRE8AD8 a "company focused on wedding and event planning without significant food distribution experience," noting that owner Greg Palomino "reportedly compared coordinating the program to his usual work of 'stuffing little tchotchkes into bags.'"
Nonprofits that received food from Palomino's company told investigators the boxes were often wet or collapsing and sometimes held rotten food, according to the report. Nonprofits also reported deliveries that were improperly packaged and inaccurate — or completely nonexistent — which the report says created "a significant risk of fraud."
“They were very sketchy. They didn’t seem to understand how food banks work," one recipient said of CRE8AD8, according to the report. "They didn’t understand that you couldn’t send us bad food and expect us to take it."If you’re in need of a CRE8AD8 chisme refresher, the company first drew fire in May of 2020 for landing its $39.1 million contract to deliver food for needy families even though it had no previous track record in that business and appeared to lack proper licensing.
The event planner faced more scrutiny for citing relationships with entities such as USAA, Valero Energy, Fiesta San Antonio and the North Dakota Department of Transportation that were later denied by officials of those organizations.
CRE8AD8 remained in the public eye for the duration of the Farmers to Families campaign, claiming at one point that it was still working under the contract even though it wasn’t renewed.
The U.S. House created the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in 2020 to examine the efficiency and transparency of federal COVID-19 relief programs, according to the entity's website.
"The significant mismanagement of the Food Box Program illuminated by this report is yet another example of the previous Administration's failure to meet the needs of the American people as the coronavirus spread across the country," subcommittee Chairman Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., wrote in the document's introduction.
"The program was marred by a structure that prioritized industry over families, by contracting practices that prioritized cutting corners over competence, and by decisions that prioritized politics over the public good."
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