Feeding Our Future: 1821 University Avenue (re)visited

In which your correspondent ventures into St. Paul.

We previously reported on the curious case of 1821 University Avenue, St. Paul, a large office complex home to no fewer than 10 free-food distribution sites (representing five different nonprofit networks), with a maximum daily capability to feed 11,000 children per day. Today, we visited in person.

Facing University Avenue

The Griggs-Midway office complex boasts some 500,000 square feet of space and 900 parking spaces. To get a sense of the geography, start at the Allianz soccer stadium at I-94 and Snelling, go west on University past 1600 Spruce Tree Centre and you arrive at 1821 University.

1821 University was listed as the host location for seven sites under Feeding Our Future and Partners in Nutrition.

The 1821 complex also hosts 29 companies with active licenses to provide PCA services in Minnesota.

Of the 29 licensed companies at that address, 19 are current vendors to DHS, taking in more than $20 million in taxpayer money per year.

Statewide, the PCA program consumes more than $1 billion and serves more than 44,000 clients. That works out to about $23,000 per client, per year. According to DHS, the program has about 40,000 people actively working as PCA’s.

As with any low-income program, the demographics skew in a certain direction. According to DHS, only 40 percent of PCA clients are classified as non-Hispanic white, roughly half the proportion of the general population. The PCA workforce largely mirrors the client base in demographic profile.

On the other side of Allianz stadium is this brick high rise next to I-94.

Owned by the nearby Concordia-St. Paul University, the building is mostly occupied by school offices and facilities. But a few floors are given over to general tenants, many of whom are PCA companies.

Given the nature of these things, you just knew that the building must also be a free-food distribution site.

The building is listed as a distribution site for both Feeding Our Future and their rival network Partners in Nutrition.

As we dig deeper.