As a couple of men responsible for more than two dozen federally subsidized food aid sites in Minnesota mused how to manage the government money coming their way, one preached patience.

"In 7 months if things stay the same you are a multimillionaire with 0 debt," Abdiaziz Farah texted his business parter in July 2021. "Now it's time to enjoy and sustain that all."

Jurors on Friday concluded the third week of trial for seven of the 70 people charged in the massive Feeding Our Future fraud case by staring at screenshots of this and many other text exchanges found on a phone federal agents seized from Farah's Savage home in 2022.

Excerpts of Farah's texts β€” many of which concerned dividing up profits and buying property in Kenya β€” represented much of the evidence and testimony jurors consumed across multiple days this week.

Prosecutors say Farah and co-defendant Abdiwahab Maalim Aftin sent more than $900,000 in fraud proceeds to Kenya to buy five condo units in a building being built in Nairobi. That's a fraction of the more than $40 million in federal money intended to feed needy children during the COVID-19 pandemic that they and five other defendants are accused of collectively stealing by dramatically overrepresenting the number of meals served by their various entities.

Farah, Aftin, Said Shafii Farah, Mohamed Jama Ismail, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, Mukhtar Mohamed Shariff and Hayat Mohamed Nur are standing trial on charges including wire fraud and money laundering. Charged in September 2022, they are the first group of defendants to stand trial in what prosecutors have billed as one of the nation's largest pandemic-related frauds. The seven defendants have been linked to Empire Cuisine & Market in Shakopee, which enrolled in federal programs to feed low-income children in April 2020.

According to the charges, the group altogether received more than $40 million in federal reimbursements for claiming to serve more than 18 million meals to children across Minnesota over a span of 18 months. Their organizations were "sponsored," or overseen, by Feeding Our Future in St. Anthony and Partners in Nutrition in St. Paul, which grew to become among the largest providers of these meal programs during the pandemic. Prosecutors allege that the defendants, like others in the case, served little or no food, and used the federal money to buy lakeside houses, luxury cars and lavish trips.

Defense attorneys argue that the defendants followed rules and served "real food" to Minnesota children in need.

Brian Pitzen, a special agent for the Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigation agency, concluded three days of questioning from a federal prosecutor Friday by walking jurors through a portion of the thousands of WhatsApp messages he reviewed between Farah and multiple others accused of participating in the conspiracy.

Defense attorneys on Friday sought to underscore the scope of Pitzen's involvement in the investigation: Pitzen said he took over the IRS's portion of the probe in early 2023 when he replaced a colleague who got a promotion.

Ian Birrell, an attorney for Farah, depicted Pitzen's testimony as an incomplete picture of what was found on Farah's phone. Birrell pointed out that photos and videos appeared to show actual food being distributed under the meals program, and he accused Pitzen of selectively picking images to give jurors the impression that Farah and others ran a "shoddy operation."

"I don't think it was much of an operation," Pitzen said. "They billed for 18 million meals and much of that was not provided."

Feeding Our Future Executive Director Aimee Bock was among those indicted in September 2022. Bock, whose own trial date hasn't been set, has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty. Kara Lomen, who led Partners in Nutrition, has not been charged though she made frequent appearances in text messages shared with jurors this week.

In one exchange, Farah complained to Lomen about resistance from state regulators to his group's plans to hand out cereal, pasta and uncooked meat and produce as part of the free meals it offered.

"We are following your menu. Just sucks that we have to deal with families asking for uncooked food," Farah texted.

He later wrote, referring to a popular processed peanut butter and jelly sandwich brand: "No Somali person is gonna eat uncrustable hahah sandwich."

"I know it is an issue," Lomen replied.

"If [the Minnesota Department of Education] actually wants food to go into the bodies of kids they need to stop smoking the wrong stuff," Farah wrote.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thompson, before concluding his direct examination of Pitzen on Friday, emphasized one message in which Farah expressed frustration to Lomen. In it, Farah said that his company's profit margins were "less than .11 cents per meal" as part of the program.

The trial was predicted to take six weeks. It will resume Monday with Pitzen still on the witness stand under cross-examination.