The alleged Feeding Our Future scandal: 3055 Old Highway 8
A number of addresses have featured prominently in the alleged free-food fraud story, but none more prominently than 3055 Old Highway 8, St. Anthony, Minnesota.
The office building at that address served as the headquarters of the now-dissolved nonprofit corporation Feeding Our Future. It was listed as “subject premises no. 1” in the first FBI search warrant made public in the case. On the morning of Jan. 20, the FBI raided the offices, along with about a dozen other locations in the Twin Cities metro area.
Not one person has been arrested or charged in the alleged scandal.
The suburban city of St. Anthony sits at the far northeast edge of Minneapolis and has a population of about 9,000.
The address in St. Anthony and the multi-tenant office building located there comes with its own history. It was originally built in 1960 to serve as the headquarters for the future Fortune 500 company Medtronic. The company moved to a larger campus in Fridley in the 1970s.
In 2012, the building was purchased by the nonprofit Abu-Huraira Islamic Center, with the intention of establishing a mosque in the building’s basement. The plan would have utilized about 10 percent of the building’s space. Neighbors objected to the potential for additional traffic at the site, zoned for light industry, and the plan was initially rejected by the local city council.
After a battle in federal court, the plan was approved in 2014 and the facility is up and running.
The federal lawsuit against the city was filed not by the Islamic Center itself, but by then-U.S. Attorney Andy Luger. After a hiatus for the Trump years, Luger is now back as U.S. Attorney, and would oversee any prosecutions in the free-food scandal, if any are undertaken.
In his previous stint as U.S. Attorney, Luger issued the famous letter exonerating now-Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and saving her political career.
It turns out that Feeding Our Future is not the only free-food nonprofit located at the address. There are four listed in databases maintained by the state Department of Education (MDE), which oversees locally the federal programs Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Here are the dollar amounts collected by these nonprofits in the past few years—
The offices of the other nonprofits were not included in any FBI search warrants. Feeding Our Future is, by far, the largest operation at 3055 Old Highway 8. Two other nonprofits operate significant networks out of the same building. The fourth is a small, on-site childcare center.
MAK Community Enrichment Services was incorporated in September 2016. Success Institute was incorporated in February 2016.
In the jargon of free-food programs, “sponsors” are nonprofits that act as go-betweens separating MDE from the thousands of physical locations where food is actually distributed. These middlemen, for a fee ranging from 10 to 15 percent, navigate the bureaucracy and arrange for payments. The above entities are sponsors.
“Hosts” are the local nonprofits who oversee the actual food distribution at a given address. In the case of the childcare center listed above, an entity may act as both “sponsor” and “host.” As it happens, 3055 Old Highway 8 is listed in MDE records as the address for four free-food distribution sites.
Two years ago, the address listed enough free-food capacity (on paper) to feed the entire city of St. Anthony.
The childcare center is listed, with a modest capacity to accommodate the children enrolled there. Another large free-food sponsor, Partners in Nutrition (d/b/a Partners is Quality Care), has claimed to sponsor three efforts at the address.
Minnesota Unite is a nonprofit formed in June 2020. The Hooyo’s Network was incorporated four days later. The for-profit Work With us: Kids! LLC (punctuation and capitalization as in the original) was incorporated in January 2021.
Other tenants located at the 3055 address include the for-profit Abu Huraira Properties, LLC and Abu Huraira Adult Day Services, LLC. The Islamic Center itself does not operate any free-food distribution sites and appears to be completely unrelated to the food nonprofits located there, other than serving as landlord.
A similarly-named entity, the Abu Huraira Islamic Center (without the hyphen), hosts a free-food site at its location in Rochester, Minnesota.
The building is listed as capable of serving 1,200 children per day for both breakfast and lunch. The site would appear to have no connection to the Center in St. Anthony, except for the fact that the site’s sponsor is Success Institute, located at 3055 Old Highway 8.
As a business incubator, the 3055 address has been extraordinarily successful.