There are a thousand stories in the free-food scandal. Here are three more.
As we’ve mentioned many times, there were thousands of free-food distribution sites registered under the government programs caught up in the “Feeding Our Future” scandal. Each one tells a story.
Some locations were doing heroic work, feeding children under near-impossible circumstances. The indictments filed in the case tell a different story for some other locations. For yet another group of locations, it’s difficult to tell where they fall on the spectrum.
A second large free-food network, Partners in Nutrition, d/b/a Partners in Quality Care, was shut down by the state Department of Education (MDE) back in January. They have been suing in both Federal and state courts for reinstatement.
In addition, they have been appealing decisions by MDE to not pay hundreds of invoices, some dating back November of last year.
In fact, Partners in Nutrition has 13 invoices dating from November and December of 2021 that remain unpaid by MDE (“CACFP Claim Denials,” pp. 3-6). A few appear to be denied because they were submitted by local nonprofits named in the FBI search warrants. Some others are lacking proper documentation.
However, MDE has apparently rejected four invoices, from three host sites, because their food vendor was mentioned in the search warrants. Not one of the local sites was mentioned in any search warrant or any later indictment in the Feeding Our Future case. The food vendor, S&S Catering, is the subject of the third indictment in the case. This indictment has produced two guilty pleas, to date.
All three hosts with unpaid 2021 S&S invoices have established track records and were all founded years ago. Intown Childcare Center was incorporated in 2015 and is based on Lake Street in Minneapolis. It is licensed by the state Department of Human Services and is in good standing, with an approved capacity of 76 children.
The nonprofit Disabled Immigrant Assocation was established in 2003 in Minneapolis.
The nonprofit Somali American Peace Council is based in Washington, DC. It has current IRS tax returns on file and was registered in Minnesota in 2014. Its local office is in Eagan.
Here are the sites registered under Partners in Nutrition, all are located in Minneapolis,
Intown operated a site for its enrolled children and a larger summer site for the public. The Peace Council operated three locations. Both Intown and the Disabled Immigrant Assocation are seeking reinstatement to the program through the Partners lawsuit.
Among its three locations, the Somali American Peace Council operated at an address on Pillsbury Avenue. The Minnesota Reformer reports that the nonprofit’s site at that location operated alongside an unrelated site by the nonprofit Action for East African People, serving 600 per day. Both Pillsbury Avenue efforts were under the sponsorship of Partners in Nutrition.
We discussed the large operation at 3355 Hiawatha Avenue in a previous post. At one time, there were three separate free-food efforts at that south Minneapolis office complex, claiming the capacity to feed up to 8,000 children per day. All three efforts were operated under Partners.
Hopefully, all of this confusion will be straightened out in court.