Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) joined Representatives Brad Finstad (MN-01), Michelle Fischbach (MN-07) and Pete Stauber (MN-08) and House Agriculture Chairman G.T. Thompson (PA-15), House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (KY-01), and House Education and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (NC-05) in sending a follow-up letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack regarding the Feeding Our Future scandal and abuse in USDA meal programs.
“Secretary Vilsack’s woefully inadequate response to our previous inquiry makes it clear that the USDA is uninterested in addressing this fraud. The buck stops here: Minnesotans want answers about how their tax dollars were allowed to be stolen at the expense of kids and families. It’s time for this issue to be addressed with the seriousness it deserves,” Congressman Emmer said.
In the letter, the members write: “According to allegations from the Department of Justice, Feeding Our Future, a Minnesota-based non-profit organization participating in the Federal Child Nutrition Programs, defrauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service of over $250 million. Subsequent to our September 30, 2022, letter to you, the number of people that have been charged has increased from 47 to 60, and a total of 10 people have plead guilty.”
The members continued: “It is unclear how the USDA and its partnering state agency, the Minnesota Department of Education, failed to discern this fraud – described as the ‘largest pandemic fraud in the United States’ – earlier in the grant cycle. Millions of taxpayer funds were stolen at the expense of hungry children in the state.”
The members conclude the letter by again requesting:
- All documents and communications regarding Feeding Our Future, including but not limited to any records required to be made available by Feeding Our Future for audit and inspection in connection with its participation in federal nutrition programs.
- All documents and communications regarding any USDA inspection or audit of any records associated with Feeding Our Future.
- All documents and communications between any USDA official, employee, agent, or contractor and any official or entity within the state of Minnesota, including but not limited to the Minnesota Department of Education, relating to Feeding Our Future.
- A copy of any relevant USDA policy relating to the authority of USDA officials, employees, agents, or contractors or state partner agencies to respond to and prevent potential fraud or improper conduct.
- All documents and communications relating to any actions taken or planned by USDA to establish additional integrity measures designed to prevent fraud and improper payments.
The letter follows an earlier request made by Emmer and this group of members in September of 2022. The original letter, which received an inadequate response from the USDA, requested documents relating to taxpayer-funded meal programs and the Feeding Our Future scandal.
You can read the full letter here.