The free-food/campaign finance nexus

If you have been following the posts on the free-food scandals and those regarding campaign finance, you knew there must be an intersection between the two.

We’ve previously documented the money flowing from figures in the Feeding Our Future scandal to Minneapolis-based politicians. This post follows some of the money flowing in the opposite direction and will focus on two nonprofits active in the federal free-food programs.

This previous post detailed the activities of Somali Community Resettlement Services (SCRS). The nonprofit, founded in 1999, operated three food distribution sites under the sponsorship of the currently-suspended Youth Leadership Academy. SCRS operates offices in Minneapolis, Rochester, and Faribault.

Between 2013 and 2016, the nonprofit saw stable revenue of between $150,000 to $200,000 per year. Revenue began surging in 2017 as the nonprofit took on assignments for state government:

For years in which that detail is provided, grants from government make up the majority of the nonprofit’s annual revenue. Here are some of the sources of revenue for SCRS in recent years:

In recent years, SCRS has provided services for four state agencies and the City of Minneapolis. In addition, the nonprofit distributed food for the Department of Education through the free food programs.

The nonprofit also accepted $100,000 from the Democrat-related political charity Minnesota Voice. SCRS received $40,000 in 2019 and $60,000 in 2018, the most recent two years for which data are available. According to its website, the mission of Minnesota Voice is “building immigrant voting power in Minnesota.”

In what appears to be an obvious conflict, during the same time period that SCRS was representing state and city governments within their client community, they were also representing Democratic-party interests within that same community.

Likewise with the nonprofit New American Development Center (NADC). This entity was founded in 2008 in Minneapolis to serve Minnesota’s Somali and East African communities. In recent years, annual revenue has been stable at around $200,000 per year:

However, in 2021, NADC began sponsoring a site in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, later enrolling that location in the Summer Food Service Program. In 2021, the nonprofit took in $3.1 million, serving 1.3 million meals out of that single location in just nine months of operation. The nonprofit has continued operating that location in 2022, taking in millions more in revenue.

The nonprofit also received $40,000 from Minnesota Voice in 2018.

The nonprofit went from earning $200,000 per year in revenue to pulling in more than $700,000 per month from distributing free food, serving up to 10,000 meals (both breakfast and lunch) per day. Interacting with up to 5,000 families a day provides the potential for much voter contact.

For government handouts and Democrat-voter outreach, it’s one-stop shopping.