The real lesson from the ‘fight for $15’? Don’t do it
The rent control ordinance passed in St. Paul last November has been a disaster. One of the strictest rent control measures in the United States, it capped annual rent increases at 3%…
In digging into the free food scandal, one address not in the news sticks out. It’s a sprawling office complex in the Hamline neighborhood of St. Paul, MN. It has more than 500,000 square feet, more than 900 parking spaces, and was originally built in 1912. It’s the Griggs-Midway building of 1821 University Avenue West.
After an initial round of review, it appeared that the largest free-food location in Minnesota was at a single address in Bloomington. Upon further review, 1821 takes the crown, with a maximum capacity to serve 11,000 children per day.
It was a team effort, with no less than ten free food sites in the complex, representing five separate networks. The eight largest sites are shown on the following table:
Ethiopian Community in Minnesota is located in Suite 233. Partners in Nutrition lists a site for the Ethiopian Community of Minnesota in Suite 223. It’s the largest free food site in the complex. This nonprofit has been around for decades.
Second place is held by Direction for Youth, a nonprofit with a maximum capacity to serve 2,000 children. The nonprofit was incorporated in November 2019.
Open Hands Midwest also once boasted a 2,000 child per day capability, now down to 1,000. The nonprofit was founded in January 2021 by a person named Liban Osman. A sitting Minneapolis City Council member has a brother with the same name. But a review of public records shows at least six people in the metro area with the same name and roughly similar birth dates.
Care Community Services boasts a capacity of 1,800. It was founded in January 2018.
The Midwest Oromo Community says that it can serve 1,500 children per day. Connect Community also boasts a capacity of 1,500. This nonprofit was founded in March 2021.
There are also two other nonprofits with smaller capacities that bring the total for the site to 11,000 children per day. The site is only a little more than a mile away from the site at 2434 University Ave., discussed earlier, with a per-day capability of 8,500.
In addition, there are two other nonprofits with headquarters in the 1821 building who sponsor free food distribution sites at other locations. For example, the nonprofit African Community Family Services in Minnesota is located at 1821 University Ave., but hosts a free food site for Partners in Nutrition up the street at 2375 University Ave. for 2,000 children.
On a single, two-mile stretch of University Avenue (forget the side streets), there is a paper capacity to serve more than 26,000 children, every day, free food.
This address is not among the ones included in the FBI search warrants. Of the nonprofits listed above, only the since-disbanded Feeding Our Future and the currently suspended Partners in Nutrition were named in any federal documents. Not one person has been arrested or charged in the alleged scandal.