Prominent nonprofit linked to Feeding Our Future case

Although neither the organization nor any of its staff have been charged with or accused of any wrongdoing, the nonprofit Somali Community Resettlement Services appears in a recently-filed Feeding Our Future trial document some 43 times.

The document is the exhibit list submitted on April 2 by Federal prosecutors for the trial beginning Monday, April 22, of eight (8) defendants in the Feeding Our Future case. The exhibit list runs 119 pages and includes some 1,500 items, which may or may not be introduced during the proceeding, expected to last more than a month.

The defendants going on trial Monday are associated with a now-defunct Shakopee restaurant, Empire Cuisine. The nonprofit Somali Community Resettlement has not appeared in any indictment or search warrant made public in the Feeding Our Future case.

Officially known as the Somali Community Resettlement Services of Olmsted County (SCRS), the nonprofit was founded in late 1999 in Rochester by Abdullah N. Hared, according to records maintained by the MN Secretary of State’s office. On the SCRS website, he is listed as Abdullah (Sharif) Hared.

We’ve written about SCRS on several occasions in the past two years.

The main office for SCRS has moved to Minneapolis and is now located in the Gale Mansion, a historic property built by the Pillsbury family that the nonprofit purchased in October 2022 for $2.6 million. Over the years, the 1912 structure has served as a private residence, offices, and an events center.

But don’t worry, the Mansion is still available for rent to host your event!

According to records kept by the state Department of Education (MDE), SCRS registered eight separate free-food distribution addresses in 2020 and 2021.

The first SCRS distribution site mentioned in the trial exhibit list is located on Minnehaha Avenue in south Minneapolis.

The second SCRS feeding site mentioned in the trial exhibit list is located in Faribault and serves as the local SCRS office in that city.

The third SCRS site mentioned continues to serve as the Rochester office of the nonprofit.

Also mentioned in the exhibit list are a different SCRS food distribution site in Minneapolis and one in Willmar. All told, the name Somali Community Resettlement appears on the exhibit list 40 times.

Of the five SCRS distribution sites mentioned in the exhibit list, all operated in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) under the sponsorship of the now-defunct nonprofit Partners in Nutrition, d/b/a Partners in Quality Care. Two of the five also operated summer programs in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) under the sponsorship of a different nonprofit, the Youth Leadership Academy, d/b/a Gar Gaar Family Services.

The trial exhibit marked H-95 purports to be a check for more than $238,000 written by SCRS to Defendant No. 19 in the case.

Exhibits marked O-144 and O-145 are corporate banking records for SCRS.

The name Abdullah N. Hared appears on three additional occasions in conjunction with his personal banking information (exhibits O-148 to O-150).

Coincidentally, Bako Trading LLC (exhibits O-146 and O-147) and Afro Produce LLC (exhibits O-203 to O-205) were food vendors utilized by Gar Gaar, according to this MDE document (p. 5).

Free food is just one of many services provide by SCRS over the years. The nonprofit currently lists the state Dept. of Human Services (DHS) and MNSure as funding partners, along with the City of Minneapolis.

Recent activity on the nonprofit’s Twitter (X) account indicates that SCRS is also doing work for Hennepin County.

In addition, SCRS has seen increasing success in getting money out of state government. Here, we look at the take from four state agencies over the past five years:

Keep in mind two things: first, Fiscal Year 2024 is still underway, so those figures may increase. Second, the above figures do not include any amounts received by SCRS from the free-food programs (through the Dept. of Education) or other state agencies, such as the Arts Board.

The growth in state funding corresponds closely to the nonprofit’s overall revenue growth during this period. According to annual financial reports filed by SCRS with the state Attorney General’s office, the nonprofit had revenue in 2019 of just under $500,000 and ran a small deficit that year. In 2020, revenue jumped up to $1.2 million and then to $4.2 million in 2021 before falling back to $3 million in 2022 with the end of the free-food money.

SCRS’ work with the state’s Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) was no doubt assisted by one prominent recent hire. Anisa Hajimumin currently works for SCRS as a consultant. According to her LinkedIn profile, she served from June 2020 until August 2022 as an Assistant Commissioner at DEED, a political appointment made by Democratic Gov. Tim Walz. During that period, she ran DEED’s Immigrant and Refugee Affairs office.

Reminder: neither Hared nor Hajimumin have been accused of any wrongdoing.

SCRS leadership have other ties to the state’s DFL party (Democratic-Farmer-Labor). For example, SCRS executive director Hared has given donations to several Democrats in recent years under different names:

In addition, another SCRS staffer gave a donation to that same Washington State candidate.

Rep. Hodan Hassan (DFL-Minneapolis) introduced two bills in 2024 that, if passed, would directly benefit SCRS. Her HF 4719 would provide a $5 million grant to SCRS to begin developing a mixed-use residential and commercial project in Minneapolis. Hodan’s HF 5243 would provide a separate job training grant of $1,500,000 to SCRS. Rep. Samakab Hussein (DFL-St. Paul) is among the co-authors of both bills.

[Update 1: two days after this story was first published, Rep. Hassan took the extraordinary action of recalling both HF 4719 and HF 5243. As of April 19, both bills are still active in the state senate.]

[Update 2: three days after the story, Rep. Hassan removed another $1 million earmark for SCRS from yet a third bill at the legislature. As reported by Session Daily, on April 19, Rep. Hodan was shepherding her HF 5205, bill to distribute $16 million in workforce development grants, through the House’s Workforce Development committee.

[In her original version of HF 5205, there was no money included for SCRS. A new version of the bill was brought to committee Friday, including $1 million for SCRS (line 6.23). The $1 million for SCRS also appears on the official bill spreadsheet (p. 2, line 53). The spreadsheet indicates that the earmark originated from Rep. Hassan’s now-withdrawn HF 5243.

[Session Daily reports that during the Friday meeting, the committee chair removed the $1 million for SCRS from the new version of the bill. The revised bill, minus the SCRS earmark, is on its way to the Ways and Means Committee, for further consideration.]

More importantly, SCRS is a member of the DFL-associated nonprofit network Minnesota Voice, and a past recipient of money from the organization. According to its website,

Minnesota Voice is a member-based coalition of 40+ grassroots organizations working to increase civic engagement and voter participation among Black, Native, Latinx, Asian, and Immigrant voters across the state.

It should be noted that Minnesota Voice is the employer of recently-elected St. Paul city council member Hwa Jeong Kim. At Minnesota Voice, Kim serves as the organization’s executive director.

In its most recently filed IRS Form 990 tax return (for 2022), Minnesota Voice reports giving SCRS a grant of $50,712 for “civic engagement.”

I’ve previously documented the role of Minnesota Voice in state Democrats’ get-out-the-vote efforts.

As I keep saying, “coincidences abound.”