Tracking the alleged Feeding Our Future scandal

For those following at home, the links, key dates, and key events included below provide a road map to the story, as it has unfolded.

Not one person has been arrested or charged. The alleged scandal involves $445 million in federal money received by two networks of Minnesota nonprofits to provide free meals to children. Much of the money has yet to be accounted for.

Here is a list of dates with links to media reports on the story.

  • Nov. 20, 2020: the nonprofit Feeding Our Future sues MDE over the agency’s refusal to authorize new free food distribution sites under SFSP.
  • May 2021: Sahan Journal reports on the dispute between Feeding Our Future and the state Department of Education over program funding.
  • June 30, 2021: State judge restores funding to Feeding Our Future, rebukes the Department.

Reporting on judge’s decision from Sahan Journal, Pioneer Press.

  • Jul. 23, 2021: MDE announces that 2,500 sites, statewide, have been approved for the summer program.
  • Oct. 11, 2021: Feeding Our Future launches a GoFundMe campaign for their sequel nonprofit, Feeding Our Future II.

The fundraiser (now closed) raises almost $74,000. A total of 21 donors contribute to the campaign, 12 of them anonymously. Four of the names on the donor list match four names included in this Sahan Journal article citing owners of the suspect Safari Restaurant, who were also donors to the Mayor Frey re-election campaign (see below). The four donate a total of $24,000 to Feed Our Future II.

  • Jan. 20, 2022: FBI executes three search warrants (1, 2, and 3) at offices of Feeding Our Future and affiliated locations.

Initial reports of FBI raids. KARE-11, Pioneer Press, WCCO, KSTP, Star Tribune. The Pioneer Press version is the only one to mention the involvement of the Partners in Nutrition nonprofit network.

  • Jan. 26, 2022: Sahan Journal reports that six persons named in the FBI search warrants donated money to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s re-election campaign. One of the six was appointed by Frey to a committee.
  • Feb. 1, 2022: Scott Johnson of Power Line digs into an Ilhan Omar connection and posts the first of three search warrants. Aimee Bock gives an interview to Sahan Journal and denies any and all wrongdoing, blaming the state Department of Education. Also in Sahan Journal, state Sen. Omar Fateh is reportedly returning campaign contributions received from figures named in the alleged scandal. The Star Tribune reports on calls for legislative audits of the Department of Education.
  • Feb. 2, 2022: Scott Johnson of Power Line reports on an incident that occurred before the FBI raids in January and posts a second search warrant. Sahan Journal has an explainer about the justice process. The Edina Sun Current reports on a local entity named in the alleged scandal, as well as including new information on a St. Paul-based nonprofit network Partners in Nutrition/Partners in Quality Care.
  • Feb. 3, 2022: The Star Tribune reports on the nonprofit network Partners in Quality Care/Partners in Nutrition and their expected appeal of their suspension by the Department of Education. The Sahan Journal reports that a name mentioned in the FBI search warrants has stepped aside from his role at a Burnsville charter school.
  • Feb. 15, 2022: Sahan Journal reports that Rep. Ilhan Omar is sending donations from alleged fraudsters to local food charities.
  • Feb. 19, 2022: The Star Tribune wonders about the role of the nonprofit’s board in oversight of Feeding Our Future.

Feb. 21, 2022: The editor of Sahan Journal explains their continuing coverage of the affair.

Feb. 22, 2022: Willmar Radio looks into a local connection.

Feb. 23, 2022: David Fahrenhold of the New York Times was in Minneapolis on this date, reporting on the story. Both the Star Tribune and Sahan Journal cover the resignation of the head of Minneapolis’ housing authority, more fallout from the free food scandal.

Feb. 24, 2022: The nonprofit company Feeding Our Future announced that it has dissolved.

Feb. 26, 2022: The Star Tribune summarizes the case to date.

Feb. 27, 2022: The Star Tribune reports on free-food fraud at the national level.

Mar. 3, 2022: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison files to oversee the dissolution of the Feeding Our Future corporation. Sahan Journal retracts an article where they had mistaken one woman named Qamar Ahmed Hassan for another.

Mar. 4, 2022: The Star Tribune looks into the oversight of nonprofits by the Attorney General.

Mar. 5, 2022: The Star Tribune looks at the free-food effort in Willmar, Minnesota.

Mar. 8, 2022: The New York Times‘ David Fahrenthold writes about the alleged scandal.

Mar. 9, 2022: The nonprofit Youth Leadership Academy (aka Gar Gaar Family Services) is banned from participating in the free-food programs.

Mar. 11, 2022: Sahan Journal does an explainer on the rules and regulations for the programs.

Mar. 13, 2022: The Star Tribune reports on reactions within the Somali community to the alleged scandal.

Mar. 14, 2022: KSTP reports on some collateral damage from the shutdown of Partners in Nutrition.

Mar. 18, 2022: the Star Tribune follows up on the fired Minneapolis Mayor’s aide.

Mar. 24, 2022: KARE 11-TV does on introductory story to the alleged scandal.

Mar. 29, 2022: the Star Tribune reports on contacts between the office of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Aimee Bock of Feeding Our Future.

April 1, 2022: the Sahan Journal reports on the relationships between the two largest free-food nonprofits. MinnPost reports on a bill introduced by Republicans at the legislature that would curb some of the nonprofit abuses.

April 4, 2022: the Commissioner of the Department of Education testifies in front of the state Senate Education committee. Coverage from the Sahan Journal, the Star Tribune, and the West Central Tribune.

April 6, 2022: more testimony from the Department of Education at the state Senate. Coverage from Fox 9 and the Star Tribune.

April 7, 2022: the Star Tribune reports on the appeal by Partners in Nutrition to lift the suspension imposed by the Department of Education.

April 12, 2022: KSTP reports on Attorney General Keith Ellison’s efforts to oversee the dissolution of Feeding Our Future. The Star Tribune has additional details.

April 13, 2022: the Star Tribune looks into efforts at the legislature to rein in government-supported nonprofits.

April 20, 2022: the state Senate continues its probe into the Department of Education and free-food fraud. Coverage from the Sahan Journal, Star Tribune, and KARE 11 TV.

April 21, 2022: the FBI makes the first arrest in the case, charging a man with passport fraud. Coverage in the Sahan Journal, the Star Tribune, and the U.S. Attorney’s office. The FBI affidavit in the case.

May 14, 2022: the Star Tribune reports on how “Records show meals program was ripe for fraud in Minnesota.”

May 17, 2022: the Star Tribune reports that an appeals panel has overturned the suspension of Partners in Nutrition from the free food programs.

May 22, 2022: the FBI makes a second arrest in the case, again for passport fraud. Sahan Journal has a full report. The FBI affidavit filed in the case.

May 25, 2022: the Star Tribune reports that an appeals panel has overturned the suspension of Youth Leadership Academy from the Summer Food Service Program.

July 7, 2022: Partners in Nutrition files appeal of unpaid invoices at the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

August 9, 2022: KSTP reports that one of the Empire Cuisine figures arrested for passport fraud has pled guilty.

Sept. 9, 2022: Partners in Nutrition sues in Federal court to be reinstated to the free-food programs. The complaint filed in the case.

Sept. 20, 2022: the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota indicts 47 people in the Feeding Our Future scandal. The indictment against Feeding Our Future CEO Aimee Bock can be found here. Empire Cuisine group indictment can be found here. S&S Catering indictment can be found here. The Haji Kitchen indictment can be found here. Lake Street Kitchen indictment can be found here. The Brava Restaurant (Rochester) indictment can be found here.

A 48th suspect was arrested before she could board a flight to Ethiopia on a one-way ticket. The FBI affidavit in that case is here.

Sept. 21, 2022: KSTP reports on MDE‘s oversight of the free-food nonprofits. The Star Tribune reports on the dispute between two indicated figures.

Sept. 22 2022: KARE 11 reports on the suspects that have fled the country. The Star Tribune reports on kickbacks and bribes within the Feeding Our Future network. WCCO reports on some of the donations made to local Democrats. The Pioneer Press reports on Gov. Walz push back against criticism of his administration’s handling of the scandal.

Sept. 23, 2022: Ramsey County Judge John Guthmann issues a statement defending his work on the Feeding Our Future case. The Star Tribune sorts out who is telling the truth between Walz and Guthmann.

The Sahan Journal documents the close ties between indicted fraudsters and Minneapolis City Hall.

Sept. 24, 2022: The Star Tribune profiles Aimee Bock based on an interview conducted back in January.

Here is a partial list of incorporated companies linked to persons named in the FBI search warrants. Only one figure in the case has been arrested or charged, to date.

  • June 11, 2016: Partners in Nutrition is incorporated, Kara Lomen as agent. In 2016, Partners filed for d/b/a status under the name Partners in Quality Care.
  • Nov. 7, 2016: Feeding Our Future is incorporated, Aimee Bock as president.
  • Nov. 18, 2019: Handy-Helper’s LLC is incorporated by Empress Malcolm Watson, Jr
  • Apr. 1, 2020: Empire Cuisine and Market is incorporated by Abdiaziz Farah.

June 16, 2020: Classic Customs — E.M.P. LLC is incorporated by Aimee Bock and Empress Watson.

  • Sep. 7, 2020: Olive Management, Inc. is incorporated in Minnesota.
  • Nov. 18, 2020: Youth Leadership Academy is incorporated.
  • Jan. 4, 2022: Aimee Bock incorporates Feeding Our Future II in Minnesota.