In the alleged Feeding Our Future scandal: Case study of Willmar, MN

A number of cities in Greater Minnesota have been linked to the alleged free food scandal. None have received more attention than the west-central Minnesota city of Willmar.

Back on March 5, the Minneapolis Star Tribune did an in-depth story on a single food distribution site in Willmar, a city of 21,000. The site, the Faafan Restaurant, claimed to be feeding 2,000 children per day last summer under the government’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Willmar is estimated to have about 4,200 children within the city limits.

The restaurant was a site for Stigma Free International’s efforts under the sponsorship of the nonprofit Feeding Our Future. Both Stigma Free and Feeding Our Future were mentioned in the FBI search warrants executed in January 2022.

The Star Tribune piece focuses on just the one location. But Willmar was served by many free food distribution sites last summer. Sites participated in both the summer SFSP and also the year-round Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Both programs are operated by the federal government and overseen in Minnesota by the state Department of Education (MDE). The MDE’s databases show the following free food capacities for Willmar for the past year:

As it turns out, Stigma Free’s site doesn’t even claim to have the largest Willmar capacity, at least on paper. Total free food distribution capacity available in Willmar is more than double the city’s child population and could, in theory, feed half of the city’s entire population.

Since the FBI raids in January, site sponsors Feeding Our Future and Partners in Nutrition have been suspended. Not one person has been arrested or indicted in the alleged scandal.

As you can see above, even without the Feeding Our Future and Partners’ sites, the local public school district sponsors a number of distribution sites, more than capable of serving the entire city’s population of children. Not listed above are additional sites operated by the local YMCA and area childcare providers.