Award-winning Bloomington entrepreneur ran sites under Feeding Our Future, Partners in Nutrition

The Minnesota Reformer reports that a nonprofit operated by a prominent Bloomington entrepreneur ran free-food distribution sites under the sponsorship of both Feeding Our Future and Partners in Nutrition. Deena Winter writes at the Reformer,

The state Department of Human Services awarded Ayan Abukar with an “outstanding refugee” entrepreneurship award last year. Even as the state was lauding her service to the community, Abukar’s nonprofit was claiming to feed 6,400 children per day, multiple times per day, via what federal prosecutors now say was a fraud-riddled federal child nutrition program.

Speaking of the DHS award, the Reformer points out that,

She won the award even though DHS revoked her child care license in 2019 for “providing false and misleading information and failure to comply with licensing laws and rules” over the course of years.

Neither she nor her nonprofit have been accused of any wrongdoing in the free-food matter. Neither she nor her nonprofit have appeared in any FBI search warrants or indictments in the Feeding Our Future case.

Her nonprofit, Action for East African People, was founded in Bloomington in 2017. According to records on file with the IRS, the nonprofit’s tax-exempt status was briefly suspended for failure to submit required tax returns. Although reinstated, the IRS website does not feature any tax returns on file for this organization.

In recent years Action has received small amounts from the state Department of Human Services, amounting to less than $2,000. In 2021, Action received a grant of $43,000 from the state Department of Health.

We had mentioned this nonprofit in our March profile of free-food distribution sites in Savage, MN. It operated sites in several cities, primarily under the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

Initially, Action operated sites under both Feeding Our Future and Partners in Nutrition. Over time, all of its locations migrated to the Partners in Nutrition platform.

The Reformer mentions that one of the above addresses in Bloomington doesn’t actually exist. Other, unrelated, nonprofits also ran food-distribution efforts at some of those same addresses, listed above.

Partners in Nutrition was suspended from the free-food programs by the state Department of Education (MDE) back in January. Partners is suing MDE in both state and Federal court for reinstatement.

Among the more than 200 Partners’ sites applying for reinstatement is Action for East African People. Action has unpaid invoices pending at MDE for all eight active locations, dating back to January 2022. MDE cites “delivering groceries (ingredients) not meals” as the reason for nonpayment.

This nonprofit has received media coverage because of the prominence of its founder. The largest single site operated by Action (1,600 children per day) would not have made the list of the 200 largest sites registered under the Partners in Nutrition network alone.

Action for East African People is one story. There are hundreds more to go.