The alleged Feeding Our Future scandal: ‘Youth’ on the march

They say that the children are our future. Based on the names of the nonprofits involved, that cliche was never more true than when applied to Minnesota’s free-food scandal.

Of course, with the alleged scandal revolving around programs meant to feed children, you shouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of organizations with “youth” in the name. But my goodness.

The scandal revolves around two networks of nonprofits participating in federal free food programs. Feeding Our Future and Partners in Nutrition (d/b/a Partners in Quality Care) sponsored hundreds of sites across the state, hosted in turn by dozens of other nonprofits.

Both Feeding Our Future and Partners in Nutrition have been suspended by the state from participating in the free food program. A third nonprofit, Youth Leadership Academy, has also been suspended.

Not one person has been arrested or charged in the scandal.

Taken from state Department of Education (MDE) databases, this is a list of nonprofits within the Feeding Our Future network, created since the beginning of the pandemic, with “youth” in their name:

The above list omits newly formed nonprofits without “youth” in the name. It also omits “youth” nonprofits formed before the pandemic, and “youth” nonprofits whose names do not exactly match names on file with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office.

Here is the list of newly-formed “youth” nonprofits for the Partners in Nutrition network:

Like movies and books, at some point all the good names are taken. But as the pandemic hit, and authorities scrambled to put together a child food network outside of schools and day cares, it is amazing how much the state relied on brand-new nonprofits, with no track record of service.

Under legislation introduced by Republicans in the state legislature this week, a nonprofit would have to exist for at least two years before it would be eligible to participate in such programs.

There is no shortage of existing nonprofits, with more than 40,000 nonprofit companies already registered in Minnesota. That’s one nonprofit for every 143 residents in the state. The state trade association estimates that there are about 9,000 nonprofits in active operation in Minnesota.

The FBI search warrants list a number of nonprofits with “youth” in the name. Some are on the lists above, others are not.

FBI search warrant no. 1 discusses the activities of Southside Youth (page 43, paragraphs 138-139) and Southwest Metro Youth (para. 156-157).

FBI search warrant no. 2 discusses the activities of Youth Inventor’s Lab (page 14, paragraphs 51 to 58), Academy for Youth Excellence (para. 59-71), Advance Youth Athletic Development (para. 72-77), and Youth Higher Educational Achievement (para. 83).

Youth will be served.