Breaking: $240 million food aid stolen, 44 indicted in Minnesota

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

We Minnesotans pride ourselves for having good intentions and good government. It is an unearned conceit. The reality is that we are chumps, and despite this being proven again and again, we keep never learn.


The New York Times tells the story of the latest example of how Minnesotans get taken for a ride:

MINNEAPOLIS — The Justice Department said on Tuesday that a federal grand jury had indicted 44 people on charges that they ran a brazen fraud against anti-hunger programs during the coronavirus pandemic, stealing $240 million by billing the government for meals they did not serve to children who did not exist.

The case, in Minnesota, appears to be the largest fraud claim uncovered in any pandemic-relief program, standing out even in a period when heavy federal spending and lax oversight allowed a spree of scams with few recent parallels.

The Minnesota operation, prosecutors said, was especially bold: One accused conspirator told the government he had fed 5,000 children a day in a second-story apartment.

My friend Bill Glahn has been doing yeoman’s work for over a year exposing the massive fraud being committed in our state by pretend “do-gooders.” And that fraud extends far beyond and goes back much farther than this one example.

The fraudsters involved in this one case have deep ties to Democrat politicians here in Minnesota, most notably Ilhan Omar, the radical “squad” member Congresswoman representing Minneapolis (and unfortunately my representative). And because the accused were politically connected they could be as brazen as they wanted without fear that anyone in power in Minnesota would go after them.

Other defendants in the case seemed to put minimal effort into disguising what they were doing, using the website to create a fake list of children they could charge for feeding. Others used a number-generating program to produce ages for the children they were supposedly feeding, which led the ages to fluctuate wildly each time the group updated its list of those nonexistent children, court papers said.

But their scheme — details of which were reported in The New York Times in March — still pulled in millions of dollars per week, prosecutors said in court papers, because government officials had relaxed oversight of the feeding program during the pandemic and because the accused fraudsters had help from a trusted insider.

That insider was Aimee Bock, the founder of a nonprofit group, Feeding Our Future, that the State of Minnesota relied on as a watchdog to stop fraud at feeding sites. But Ms. Bock did the opposite, the indictments said: When pandemic-relief programs flooded the programs with money, she exploited her position to bring in nearly 200 new feeding operations she knew were submitting fake or inflated invoices.


As the Sahel Journal reports the scheme worked like this:

The federal Child and Adult Care Program and the Summer Food Service Program are used to feed children and adults in daycare and afterschool organizations. Together, they spend $4 billion a year to feed people across the country.

Feeding Our Future received hundreds of millions of dollars from these two federal programs from 2019 through 2021 and passed the money down to hundreds of mostly immigrant-run nonprofits across the state, according to records from the Minnesota Department of Education.

The process was supposed to work like this: Every month, Feeding Our Future supplied the Minnesota Department of Education with reports on the number of meals their contractors served. The Department of Education then sent the meal counts to the federal government for compensation. Feeding Our Future would then pass the federal money down to its contractors—religious institutions, non-profits, and other groups—that were supposed to use the money to feed children.

During the pandemic, when schools and their free meals were shut down, these reimbursements amounted to millions of dollars each month. Feeding Our Future received $3.4 million in federal food-aid money in 2019, $43 million in 2020, and $198 million in 2021.

Minnesotans LOVE giving money to causes with names like “Feeding our Future.” It has a nice ring to it, after all.

The fraud itself is the sexy part that gets people’s attention. When a quarter billion dollars gets stolen of course it does. But the much more troubling thing is that the Minnesota Department of Education is the agency that administered the program, and somehow nobody there cared to do anything about the fraud until the feds got involved to investigate. And the feds got involved to investigate because some whistleblowers in the immigrant community worked with some rebellious Republican legislators to expose the fraud.


In other words the Democrat government officials ignored the problem, the MSM media here looked the other way, and it took political outsiders to get something done about it. Now some people will be going to jail.

We have seen this pattern before here in Minnesota. A few years back it was revealed that Somali-run daycare facilities defrauded the state out of nearly $77 million in subsidies, and it wasn’t until Republicans made a stink about it that anything was done. When the Star Tribune reported on the story they implied that the accusations were “politically fraught.” As you would expect, there were plenty of ties to Ilhan Omar in this story too.

Minnesota’s reputation for clean politics and a great social safety net are completely fraudulent. What we have here instead is a well-oiled grift machine that keeps the money flowing to Left-wing non-profits.

My wife and I, who have both been involved in conservative politics in Minnesota for over two decades, often joke that we chose the wrong side if we wanted to get rich. Being a Democrat apparat is a ticket to the good life in our state, and being a Republican is a ticket to living in the wilderness in a tent.

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