Feeding Our Future: Owatonna (re)visited

We recently visited this southern Minnesota city and noted some of the connections to free-food fraud.

Back in March of last year, we noted that during Covid, Owatonna had more free-food distribution capacity registered than there are children in the city.

Most of that daily capacity (5,200) was registered to an entity called “Mind Foundry” who listed four apartment complexes as distribution sites around the city, all under the banner of the nonprofit Partners in Nutrition. Mind Foundry’s owner, Mahad Ibrahim, is Defendant No. 17 in the case. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is currently scheduled to go to trial in October.

Fortunately for the children of Owatonna, a number of other entities stepped up during the Covid years to provide free food to needy kids. The local public-school district opened nine feeding locations around the city, with a local private school adding a tenth. The public schools still operate four summer feeding locations.

A number of nonprofit organizations also helped out. Somali Community Resettlement Services (SCRS) operated a large site under both the Partners in Nutrition and Gar Gaar Family Services sponsorship at this location in Owatonna’s historic downtown,

Also working under Partners in Nutrition, the nonprofit Somali American Cultural Society of Owatonna (SACSO) operated a distribution site on the east end of town,

Even out-of-town nonprofits helped out. One of the distribution sites in Owatonna was sponsored by the Hopkins-based nonprofit GOB Relief and Development. GOB operated a site at one of Mind Foundry’s apartment building locations. The Owatonna location was one of four sites GOB operated around the state under Feeding Our Future.

GOB itself was headquartered in this downtown Hopkins building,

Coincidentally, this building on Main Street hosted two separate and unrelated free-food distribution efforts with a combined capacity of 800 children per day.

Back in Owatonna, although demand has obviously fallen, post-Covid, a number of schools and daycare centers continue to offer free food in 2023.