The curious case of the foodless food charity
It turns out that giving away free food to poor hungry children was an extremely lucrative enterprise in 2021. I’ve mentioned before how hundreds of nonprofits sprung up overnight (or…
The small suburb of Hopkins, MN, is wedged in between the larger western Minneapolis suburbs of Edina, Minnetonka, and St. Louis Park. The city has a population of about 20,000, with about 4,000 children. It was named for an early resident who served as the town’s first postmaster.
Hopkins is home to the prestigious Blake School and the source of Nine Mile Creek (author’s photo):
Not one person has been arrested or charged in the alleged scandal. The case involves two federal programs: the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). In Minnesota, the programs are overseen by the state’s Department of Education (MDE).
According to databases maintained by MDE, the following free-food distribution capacity is registered in Hopkins:
The City of Hopkins is served by the Hopkins School District. However, only two elementary schools are located within the city limits. The district’s other schools are located in adjacent communities. For the summer of 2021, the Hopkins school district supplemented the free food capacity at the two elementary schools with food trucks located in city parks.
The city hosts distribution sites sponsored by two networks suspended by MDE: Feeding Our Future and Partners in Nutrition.
Feeding Our Future sponsors the city’s largest distribution site (at least on paper), which is hosted by the nonprofit Shafi’i Tutoring & Homework Help Center with food provided by the adjacent restaurant Sambusa King. Both the restaurant and the tutoring center are located at the same address, 126 Blake Road North.
The restaurant is on the left.
One of the other locations sponsored by Feeding Our Future is hosted by the Hopkins-based Youth International Club. Youth International was founded in January 2020 and hosts four sites in the southwest metro, with a cumulative capacity of 2,000 children per day.
Partners in Nutrition sponsors the largest network in the city, with six locations and a maximum capacity of 5,000 children per day. The two largest sites, each with a listed capacity of 1,500, were hosted by newly formed nonprofits. One site was hosted by the nonprofit Advancement for Youth Education, incorporated in February 2021. The other was hosted by Hope Hunger Relief, incorporated in October 2021.
The Ubah Medical Academy operates an independent food distribution site within Hopkins.
Hopkins is not mentioned in any of the three FBI search warrants made public in the case. But the city does make a cameo appearance in the lawsuit filed by Feeding Our Future against the Department of Education. The lawsuit was first filed in November 2020.
In the final edition of their lawsuit against MDE, filed on Jan. 11 of this year, Feeding Our Future lodges several complaints against the Department. On page 10, paragraphs 42 to 44 of the lawsuit, Feeding Our Future describes how the Department in April 2020 refused to process applications for eight new food distribution sites for the network. Among the eight listed was the Shafi’i Tutoring site, with food provided by Sambusa King.
In the end, the Department relented and the application was approved, as you can see in the above table.
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