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Minnesota attorney general dissolves 17 nonprofits in $250 million child nutrition fraud

Friday May 17, 2024

Minneapolis (HOL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has announced the dissolution of 17 state nonprofits implicated in a colossal fraud scheme involving the Federal Child Nutrition program, which totalled an estimated $250 million. These actions are a response to the extensive investigations sparked by the scandal surrounding the Feeding Our Future organization.

These nonprofits, which purported to provide meals to needy schoolchildren, were actually
devoid of legitimate nonprofit activities. Investigations revealed fake addresses, non-compliance with reporting requirements, and evidence of financial misuse, leading to their court-ordered shutdown. "These organizations betrayed public trust by diverting funds intended to support vulnerable children,Ellison stated.

The crackdown is part of a broader effort to address systemic fraud within the Federal Child Nutrition program, largely carried out under the guise of pandemic emergency relief efforts. The fraud, which has resulted in charges against numerous individuals, was notably exposed by Hadith Ahmed, a former Feeding our Future employee who turned state witness. During a trial last week, Ahmed detailed his role in the scheme, admitting to creating a fake meal site and participating in kickback schemes to steal federal money.

The case against Feeding Our Future began to unravel when Ahmed, confronted with overwhelming evidence of his crimes, pleaded guilty and cooperated with federal prosecutors. His testimony provided a rare glimpse into the mechanics of the fraud, implicating multiple defendants, including the yet-to-be-tried former executive director of Feeding Our Future, Aimee Bock.

As the case progresses, revelations from insiders like Ahmed have prompted broader scrutiny of nonprofit governance, especially for organizations benefiting from federal programs during the pandemic. The dissolution of the 17 nonprofits is part of an ongoing effort to restore integrity to such programs and ensure that federal funds fulfill their intended purpose.

Ellison's actions highlight the challenges of regulating nonprofit activities, particularly during crises when oversight may lag behind the rapid disbursement of emergency funds. With the trial continuing and more details emerging, the community and stakeholders are calling for stronger measures to prevent such abuses in the future.

The trial is in its third week.

The 17 nonprofits dissolved in the recent judgements are:

Academy for Youth Excellence

African Chamber of Commerce Education

Gedo Community Services

Hobyo Health Care Foundation

Hope Academy for Youth & Women Empowerment

Minnesota African Chamber of Commerce

Minnesota’s Somali Community

Multiple Community Services, MCS

Optimum Community Services

Somali American Faribault Education

South West Metro Youth

Stigma-Free International

The Free Minded Institute

United Enrichment with Heart

Unity Social Service

Youth Higher Educational Achievement

Youth Inventor’s Lab


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