12 April 2022
A judge will oversee the process of shutting down St. Anthony nonprofit Feeding Our Future.
Dakota County District Judge David Lutz granted an order Monday to supervise the dissolution of the nonprofit’s operations and assets, which could take months.
The nonprofit’s board voted to voluntarily dissolve in February — more than a month after the FBI raided its offices and froze its bank accounts. Investigators are looking into what they say was a “large-scale scheme” to defraud the government of federal money meant for child meal programs.
Feeding Our Future leaders deny any wrongdoing and no one has been criminally charged.
In March, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office took the rare step of requesting a judge supervise the dissolution to ensure there isn’t any fraud as the operation winds down.
In the order filed Monday, Lutz requested the nonprofit file corrected IRS tax forms, audited financial statements and a full inventory of its property including bank accounts and buildings. Feeding Our Future also must provide information on anticipated costs of the dissolution process and all debts. The order also says Feeding Our Future needs to formally request to use money raised through an online fundraiser that drew nearly $74,000 for its programs. Lutz would need to sign off on Feeding Our Future using that money for dissolution costs or satisfying debt.
“This is not an adversarial proceeding,” said Jennifer Urban, a St. Louis Park attorney representing the nonprofit. “We’re working towards the same goal.”
She added that the judge has taken into account that Feeding Our Future’s request to the U.S. Department of Justice to release its money and documents was denied. She said Feeding Our Future is cooperating with both the state and FBI investigations.
A review hearing is scheduled for July 13.
On Jan. 20, more than 200 officers raided more than a dozen sites associated with Feeding Our Future and the FBI froze Feeding Our Future’s accounts, which had at least $3.5 million in them, according to the state. More than 17 people are named in unsealed FBI search warrants.
Investigators allege the nonprofit and its associates used millions of federal dollars meant to reimburse the entities for providing meals and snacks to children. Federal investigators allege some of it was spent on personal gain instead — from luxury cars and lavish trips to lakefront homes.
Aimee Bock, the nonprofit’s executive director, said in a January interview that she saw no evidence of fraud at her organization or with any of her subcontractors, adding that she had documentation proving businesses she contracted with provided food. The for-profit businesses could then use earnings for personal use, she said.
While the FBI is investigating misuse of federal dollars, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office is investigating whether the nonprofit violated state laws. The state agency said it had “reasonable grounds” to believe Feeding Our Future leaders failed to properly administer charitable assets, breached fiduciary duties, made false or deceptive representations while seeking donations and solicited donations when the nonprofit wasn’t registered with the state. The state agency hasn’t made any formal determination of wrongdoing.
Feeding Our Future hasn’t operated since the FBI raid and Bock laid off 65 employees. The Minnesota Department of Education, which distributes the federal funds, stopped all payments to Feeding Our Future and its more than 100 sites on Jan. 20.
Legislators are now scrutinizing the Education Department’s oversight of the federal meal programs, holding hearings this month. The next hearing is April 20.