Doing well by doing good: Not all free-food nonprofits are suffering

Earlier this week, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reported on a significant real estate transaction involving a prominent free-food nonprofit.

Somali Community Resettlement Services (SCRS) purchased the historic Gale Mansion in Minneapolis last month for a reported purchase price of $2.6 million. Most recently, the building has served as a wedding and events venue.

The Business Journal reports,

Prior to the sale, the property, located at 2115 Stevens Ave., only had two owners since it was constructed in 1911. The seller, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), had owned the property for 75 years. It purchased the building for $50,000 in 1947, according to the venue’s website.

The Business Journal adds,

The 24,245-square-foot property was built by Edward Gale and Sarah Pillsbury, daughter of Minnesota Gov. John Pillsbury. The building reflects architecture they saw during their European travels, according to the venue’s website

The Mansion sits on the north side of Morrison Park, across from the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

July 2023 file photo

Over the summer we drove by the nonprofit’s headquarters on Hiawatha Avenue in south Minneapolis.

The nonprofit also has offices in Faribault and Rochester. SCRS is one of hundreds of nonprofits who never did business with Feeding Our Future, were never mentioned in any FBI search warrants or indictments, were never accused of any wrongdoing, yet have suffered financially from mere proximity to the scandal.

We had previously written about this nonprofit in March (1), March (2), March (3), May, and June. SCRS has operated large free-food distribution sites for two networks now suspended by the state Department of Education (MDE): Partners in Nutrition, d/b/a Partners in Quality Care, and Youth Leadership Academy, d/b/a Gar Gaar Family Services. SCRS operated eight sites for Partners and three sites for Youth.

The Gale Mansion purchase reflects the meteoric rise in the fortunes of Somali Community Resettlement. As recently as 2019, the nonprofit reported total annual revenue of less than $500,000 and a net worth under $80,000.

According to records on file at the Minnesota Attorney General’s office (which oversees charities), SCRS reported 2021 revenue of more than $4 million and a year-end net worth of $411,000 on total assets of $616,000.

SCRS still has an unpaid invoice under Partners in Nutrition dating back to January 2022. The MDE cites “delivering groceries, not meals” as the reason.

Through Partners’ lawsuits against MDE, SCRS is seeking reinstatement for five of its free-food distribution sites.

No matter. SCRS has found success beyond free food. Its website lists grants from five different state agencies other than MDE. Its most recent annual report lists additional support from city and county agencies and private foundations.

Onward and upward!