The free-food empire strikes back
The suspended nonprofit Partners in Nutrition wins a round in its appeal against the state Dept. of Education. One of three free-food nonprofits suspended in the wake of the Feeding…
This suburban city south of the Minnesota River has a population of about 32,000 and is thick with free-food fraud connections. Allegedly.
It’s a fast-growing suburb and a haven for families with children, of which there are more than 10,000 in the city. There are relatively few young adults or older people in Savage.
Not one person has been arrested or indicted in the case. The case stems from the Jan. 20 FBI raids on a nonprofit called Feeding Our Future located near Minneapolis.
Feeding Our Future operated free-food distribution sites throughout the state, under the federal programs Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). In Minnesota, the programs are overseen by the state Department of Education (MDE).
A private home at 15418 Hampshire Ave. is “subject premises no. 3” in the third FBI search warrant made public in the case (see page 6, paragraphs 18 through 22). It was purchased in 2021 by Abdiaziz Farah, a figure in the Empire Cuisine chapter of the free-food saga. The home was searched by the FBI as part of the raids conducted on Jan. 20. This is the photo included in the FBI search warrant:
The FBI alleges that the buyer obtained the bulk of the $575,000 purchase price for the property through the free-food fraud. It is listed as Property No. 1 in the U.S. Attorney’s forfeiture filing in the case.
“Subject premises no. 2” is a townhouse located in Savage at 13825 Edgewood Avenue South (page 5, paragraphs 13 to 17). It is the residence of Mohamed Jama Ismail, another co-owner of Empire Cuisine. It is listed as Property No. 14 in the forfeiture filing.
Compared to other cities we’ve covered, Savage includes relatively modest, but still significant, free-food distribution capability, according to MDE databases—
The City of Savage is split among several school districts.
The largest single site registered with MDE is listed at a maximum capacity of 2,000 children per day. The site is located in the Hidden Valley apartment complex and was hosted by the nonprofit Eagle Salvation, founded in July 2021. The site was sponsored by the now-suspended Partners in Nutrition Network.
The second biggest site is hosted by Mind Foundry and located at the Winfield townhome complex. The role of Mind Foundry in the alleged scheme is discussed by the FBI in search warrant no. 3 (p. 14, para. 45). The food vendor for the site was Empire Cuisine.
Action for East African People operated two locations under Partners in Nutrition in Savage. This nonprofit makes for an interesting case study by itself, operating an extensive network in the state.
Action for East African People initially operated sites under the sponsorship of Feeding Our Future. However, the nonprofit later shifted over to Partners in Nutrition.
For its part, Feeding Our Future is listed as currently operating only one significant site in Savage. It was hosted by Academy for Youth Achievements, a nonprofit founded in January 2021.
The latter nonprofit appears to be separate from and unrelated to Academy for Youth Excellence, which is discussed in FBI search warrant no. 2.