Northland non-profits devastated by Minnesota food fraud scheme

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 9:01 PM CDT
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CHISHOLM, MN. (KBJR) - After dozens of Minnesotans were accused of stealing $250 million in pandemic relief money meant for non-profits, local organizers are speaking out.

Feds: Minnesota food scheme stole $250M; 47 people charged (

Leaders with northland non-profits say they’re devastated to hear dollars that could’ve gone toward feeding children, instead went to this fake program.

Executive Director of United Way of Northeastern Minnesota, Erin Shay, said her organization had to work very hard to stay afloat during the pandemic.

United Way is a non-profit serving our region, helping to feed children who face food insecurity.

One of their largest programs, Buddy Backpacks, serves 1,000 kids, sending them home each weekend and holiday break with meals.

Shay said United Way’s meals cost around $8 dollars per child, so the millions of dollars lost to the fraud could have been tens of millions of meals for hungry children.

“Just thinking about other non-profits across the state that could’ve had access to that type of funding, and then those dollars not going to feed children, it was devastating to hear that news,” said Shay.

Shay said if you live in Northeastern Minnesota and would like to get your child involved in the Buddy Backpack program, you should contact your child’s school.