Feeding Our Future: Hopkins (re)visited

Your correspondent goes looking for free food and finds light rail instead.

A couple of months ago, we wrote about the connections between the free-food scandal and the small western Minneapolis suburb of Hopkins. At the height of the scandal, the suburb had more than enough free-food distribution capacity registered with the state Department of Education to feed the city’s entire population of children.

To be clear, not one person has been arrested or charged in connection with any Feeding Our Future fraud. Not one person or organization located inside Hopkins was mentioned in any FBI search warrant.

It turns out that the bulk of the city’s capacity, sufficient to feed all of the city’s children, was located at a single intersection: Blake Road and Excelsior Boulevard.

A visit to the site reveals a cluster of former free-food activity adjacent to an area where transit-related redevelopment is poised to join several minority-owned and serving businesses.

Most of the city’s free-food distribution capacity was sponsored by the rival nonprofits Feeding Our Future and Partners in Nutrition. Neither organization is currently operating. Below is the updated list of capacity available in Hopkins for the upcoming Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) season (Fiscal Year 2023):

The sites operated by local schools will be back this summer, along with a scaled-back food truck service. But the big sites sponsored by nonprofits are missing.

The largest operations previously registered at Blake and Excelsior are all situated at the northwest corner of the intersection. It turns out that most of this plot of land is slated for redevelopment as apartments and commercial development have positioned to take advantage of the planned Hopkins light rail stop nearby. The businesses pictured below are located in an area just outside of the Blake Road Station footprint, but in an area cryptically designated for “future use.”

The largest Blake Road free-food location, with a claimed maximum capacity of 2,000 children per day, is this small storefront hosting a tutoring company at 126 Blake Road.

The food vendor for this operation is listed as this small restaurant, at the same address, around the corner of the building.

The restaurant is the business on the left in the above picture. This initial applications of Sambusa and Shafi’i to participate in the program were denied by the Department of Education (page 11, paragraph 41).

Both the restaurant and the adjacent markets were bustling on this summer Friday evening.

The unmarked, empty storefront shown above is 8430 Excelsior Blvd. It was registered with a capacity to feed 1,500 children per day by a nonprofit founded in October 2021. It would appear that this effort never got off the ground.

This market at 108 Blake Road was registered as a site capable of feeding 1,200 children per day by a nonprofit named All Somalis Community of Worldwide Services, founded in 2009. This nonprofit has been suspended twice by the IRS (in 2014 and 2022) for failure to provide required Form 990 tax returns. The only tax return on file for this nonprofit entity dates from 2015 and shows revenues of less than $50,000.

All four of the above sites are just outside of the footprint of the Blake Road Station redevelopment project. For now, they are still in business and going strong.

This small childcare facility across the road was registered with a maximum daily feeding capacity of 750 children, registered under the Federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

Given its location in the southeastern corner of the intersection, it looks to be safe from the redevelopment wrecking ball.