MAINTAINING INTEGRITY IN A SHIFTING LANDSCAPE
January 22, 2022
Hunger Impact Partners has long been a strong ally for schools and community-based organizations to fill the meal gap for low-income families. Our goal is to make sure there’s enough food for every child in Minnesota.
This week, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported the FBI raided a non-profit that has been accused of fraud.
(Update, Jan. 25: The Star Tribune published an editorial on the topic.)
The Pioneer Press in St. Paul also had a story.
We are relieved that authorities have taken action. Hunger Impact Partners has never been affiliated with these organizations. We trace our roots to 2011 and the Hunger-Free Minnesota Campaign.
The Minnesota Department of Education issued a letter on this recent news of fraud, which you can read by scrolling down.
As we noted in our last annual report, COVID-related school closures and in-person safety restrictions created challenges. We saw rapid expansion of new sites with bundled meals and non-congregate flexibility, which is the option for schools and child care operators to provide meal pick-up options for students learning virtually.
While expanding available meals for needy children is always welcomed, these circumstances have made it difficult to maintain the integrity of federal meal programs. Sadly, it created an opportunity for some whose focus was not on feeding children in need.
The Minnesota Department of Education Nutrition Services team has worked tirelessly to manage and question the meal programs in communities that misrepresented their programming. They can use more help.
We have three policy priorities that we believe can strengthen the integrity and transparency of meal sponsors:
- Change regulations to align Child and Adult Care Food Program meal sponsor transfers of licensed childcare centers with the annual sponsor transfers of family daycare homes.
- Build or customize an existing technology platform for Minnesota that allows sponsors to track meal program participants, thus avoiding duplication.
- Limit the number of sites for new sponsors during the first year of operation.
With the COVID pandemic continuing, we need to strengthen the meals programs for needy families and protect program integrity so that the meals go to the intended families.
During this difficult time, we continue to serve as a resource and trusted advisor to Minnesota schools and community organizations who share our commitment to ensure our children are only hungry to learn.
Chief Executive Officer
HUNGER IMPACT PARTNERS
111 Third Avenue South, Suite 190
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Office – 612-208-0139
Cell – 612-518-5492
Memorandum From the Minnesota Department of Education (PDF, Feb. 18, 2022)
Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is aware there are a number of sites who were previously sponsored by Feeding Our Future (FOF) that are seeking options to continue participation in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). MDE wants to ensure these sites receive the support and assistance they need to continue to successfully administer the USDA’s federal nutrition programs. MORE
Our Partners Working to Impact Child Hunger
January 20, 2022
Nutrition Sponsors, Today, federal law enforcement executed multiple search warrants at properties associated with site operations under Feeding Our Future, a sponsor of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Child Nutrition programs across the state of Minnesota. As a result, today, January 20, 2022, MDE has moved to immediately terminate Feeding Our Future’s permanent agreements under the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), and has issued a “stop pay” order to halt all payments to Feeding our Future. This action is being taken in response to the federal investigation of Feeding Our Future, and other organizations for mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. This investigation was made public through the unsealing of warrants and affidavits on January 20, 2022 through the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Ensuring that children are not going hungry has been of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic because many families have faced economic uncertainties. That is why MDE will continue to work with community organizations and other CACFP and SFSP sponsors and sites to ensure that impacted children and families still have access to the food support they need. To be clear: This does not impact the meals students receive during the school day. If your child receives free or reduced-priced meals through their school’s meal program, they will continue to receive those meals at school. The CACFP program provides nutritious meals to children enrolled for care at participating child care centers, and children and youth participating in after school care programs. MDE is working in coordination with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Children’s Cabinet to provide support to impacted sites and work with legitimate sites to secure a new sponsor so they can continue operating their programs and providing free meals to children in need. Site operators who will be impacted by the termination of Feeding our Future’s agreement are encouraged to reach out to the Minnesota Department of Education at CNPcomplaints.MDE@state.mn.us. CACFP is primarily available to students and children who are enrolled in participating child care centers and participating after school programs. Minnesotans who have been impacted by a site closure and are having a difficult time finding access to meals or food may visit the COVID-19 Emergency Food Support page to find resources near them. The MDE Nutrition Team asks for your patience while we work to support impacted sites.