Audit shows oversight of Feeding our Future was inadequate, created fraud opportunities

Audit shows oversight of Feeding our Future was inadequate, created fraud opportunities

Audit shows oversight of Feeding our Future was inadequate, created fraud opportunities

Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) has released a special report of the state’s Department of Education’s (MDE) oversight of Feeding Our Future after an investigation to see if the agency met the federal requirements to oversee the non-profit’s participation in welfare programs.

Among those requirements were monitoring and enforcing Feeding Our Future’s compliance with program requirements, such as providing guidance and training to Feeding Our Future staff and terminating the organizations’ participation in the programs – if necessary.

Thursday’s report, which can be found by CLICKING HERE, states the MDE’s oversight was inadequate, and that the agency’s actions and inactions created opportunities for fraud. It goes on to say the MDE didn’t act on warning signs known to the department before the COVID-19 pandemic and before the start of alleged fraud, didn’t effectively exercise its authority to hold Feeding Our Future accountable to requirements and wasn’t prepared to respond to the issues it encountered with the organization.

As reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in Jan. 2022, court records showed the organization received nearly $200 million in 2021 in Federal Child Nutrition Funds through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The FBI started investigating the nonprofit in May of 2021 after being tipped off by the Minnesota Department of Education — which oversees the distribution of the federal funds, according to one search warrant. In a statement, a spokesperson for MDE confirmed it had moved to immediately terminate any agreements and to “halt all payments to Feeding our Future.”

Dozens of people were federally charged later that year, including alleged conspiracy, wire fraud, bribery and money laundering. Prosecutors alleged they stole millions of tax dollars meant to feed children during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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As part of its recommendations, the OLA says the state legislature should either establish criteria or give the MDE authority to do rulemaking and establish criteria the agency must consider when determining whether to approve organizations for Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) or Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). It also says the MDE should take more steps in verifying information provided in support of sponsorship applications submitted by high-risk applicants.

In addition, the OLA says the only administrative review done by the MDE of Feeding Our Future’s CACFP operations was in 2018, which apparently showed “serious findings that required follow-up” but that was never done.

The OLA says the MDE were given more than two dozen complaints involving Feeding Our Future between June 2018 and Dec. 2021, adding that by law, state agencies must promptly investigate complaints received or irregularities noted in connection to CACFP and SFSP. In addition, the MDE didn’t investigate some complaints, “despite their frequency or seriousness” and that when investigations were done, they were deemed “inadequate.”

That finding prompted the OLA to recommend the MDE to revise its CACFP and SFSP complaint investigation procedures, among other things.

In response to the audit, Willie L. Jett II, Commissioner for the MDE, said after being appointed as commissioner in Jan. 2023, he brought MDE leaders together to help him understand what happened with Feeding Our Future and what had been learned since then.

Jett added that as one of his first actions as Commissioner he “came before members of the House and Senate related to another OLA review and shared that my approach as Commissioner of MDE would be oriented towards accountability and continuous improvement.” He continued on to say the MDE “has been intentional and focused on accountability and working to find agency-wide solutions to enhance program integrity and strong fiscal oversight.”


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Senators Mark Johnson and Mark Koran spoke late Thursday morning about the audit, and their reaction can be viewed in the video player below.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth (R-Cold Spring) issued the following statement after the report was released:

“For the second time in less than a week, we’re seeing reports that Walz administration officials have blatantly turned their backs on signs of fraud, costing Minnesotans hundreds of millions of dollars. At the height of Feeding our Future’s fraud, they claimed to serve 12 million meals in a month – enough to feed every child in the state more than eight meals. This is government malpractice, and the administration needs to be held accountable for the millions that they’ve given away to fraudsters.

Once again, we see that Democrat officials simply do not care enough to stop fraud from occurring right under their noses. Republicans have sounded the alarm on this for years. It is long past time to stop trusting Democrats to spend tax dollars wisely.”

Rep. Demuth

In addition, the report will be shown to a commission Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. You can watch that presentation on THIS YouTube page.

Check back for updates. CLICK HERE for KSTP’s full coverage of the Feeding Our Future investigation.