$455 million in taxpayer money to MN nonprofits named in FBI search warrants

On Thursday, some 200 law enforcement officers raided the offices of the St. Anthony, Minnesota-based nonprofit Feeding Our Future and related organizations at more than a dozen locations.

Records available through the state Department of Education reveal that the Feeding nonprofit has received $245 million in federal money, ostensibly to fund meals for children. Almost all of the money was distributed in the past year and a half.

A second organization named in the search warrants — St. Paul-based Partners in Nutrition, also known as Partners in Quality Care — has received an additional $210 million from the Department in the last four fiscal years.

The FBI alleges that little of the money reached the mouths of children. Instead, they allege, the money was diverted for the personal use of a handful of people involved in the scheme. To be clear, although the dollar amounts involved range into the hundreds of millions, the FBI mentions only tens of millions as allegedly missing. (Of note, the Center’s own Jeff Van Nest is quoted in this KARE 11 report on these events.)

(Update: The Sahan Journal digs deeper into the story, with new details about the organizations involved. They even knock on a few doors. The Star Tribune editorial board calls for more investigation. As of 1/25/22, no arrests have been made or charges filed.)

The dispute between the federal Dept. of Agriculture and the state Dept. of Education on the one hand and the nonprofit Feeding our Future and its more than two dozen vendors on the other hand has been ongoing for a year and a half. At one point funding had been cut off, until restored by a state judge in June of last year. The nonprofits claim to collectively feed 175,000 children in Minnesota each day across 210 locations. If true, the nonprofits feed one in every eight children in the state.

After the search warrants were executed on Thursday, on Friday the state moved to cut off funds to both Feeding and Partners. The Feeding Our Future founder was formerly employed at Partners in Nutrition, according to her LinkedIn page.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press notes that the political fallout from this event has already begun. It’s interesting to note that the video linked in this and other media stories that were available as late as this afternoon have vanished from YouTube and other outlets.

Sahan Journal has a comprehensive background report on the subject. New details are included in this Star Tribune article published Friday. The Pioneer Press lists the names of the individuals and entities mentioned in the FBI search warrant.

No charges have been filed in this case, but it is one definitely worth watching closely.