Scandal Doesn’t Define Us (StarTribune)

Howard Tarkow
February 12, 2023

This letter to the editor originally appeared in StarTribune on February 12, 2023.

In spotlighting the scandal at Feeding Our Future, the Star Tribune correctly continues to show the need for stronger accountability of nonprofit organizations that receive taxpayer dollars. Other nonprofits like ours that tirelessly work to eradicate hunger are furious that individuals allegedly enriched themselves with public money intended to feed hungry people.

We hope one potential swindle does not become a pretext to diminish critical programs on which millions of hungry people rely. The paper has also reported a record number of visits to Minnesota food shelves in 2022, quoting sources describing the situation as a “crisis” and “shocking” (“Food shelf visits set record in 2022,” Feb. 9). Rightly so. Nationally, about 10.2% of American households, and 12.5% of households with children, experience food insecurity in 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hunger is nonpartisan: All lawmakers have food-insecure constituents. History shows that humane public policy and funding once achieved the indisputable of ending hunger. Bipartisan work created a federal safety net of programs that shrunk food insecurity to just 3% of Americans in the 1970s. Subsequent reversals of public policies helped create the dire straits many citizens now face. We need strengthened, not curtailed, programs and policies to solve the complicated, persistent crisis of hunger.

Nonprofits, including those doing anti-hunger work, should account for every public dollar they receive. Good nonprofits are transparent, and donors can support them with confidence.