Letters from President Donald Trump will be included in millions of food assistance boxes, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced.
The letters come in both English and Spanish.
“As President, safeguarding the health and well-being of our citizens is one of my highest priorities. As part of our response to coronavirus, I prioritized sending nutritious food from our farmers to families in need throughout America,” they read.
“The move is the latest example of Trump using the levers of government and taxpayer dollars for self-promotion as he runs for re-election,” reported POLITICO. “In the early months of the crisis, the president enclosed letters with his signature to millions of Americans getting stimulus money stemming from a congressional aid package — and made sure his name was printed on the checks. His health department is now rushing to push out a $300 million taxpayer-funded ad campaign promoting the administration’s coronavirus response.”
USDA denied that the mandate was politically motivated.
“Politics has played zero role in the Farmers to Families food box program,” the agency said in an emailed statement. “It is purely about helping farmers and distributors get food to Americans in need during this unprecedented time.”
Some food banks have instructed their volunteers to remove the letters from the boxes before delivering them.
“We are a nonpartisan organization,” said Greg Trotter, a spokesman for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “While the content of the letter is not overtly political, we think it’s inappropriate to include a letter from any political candidate just weeks from an election.”
Fox News first reported about the letters in July. The White House also touted the Farmers to Families Food Box Program in a tweet earlier this week.
Today, @USDA announced that the Farmers to Families Food Box Program has delivered more than 100 million boxes of food across the country!
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 29, 2020
Democrats sent letters to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue over the summer urging him to stop including the letters in food assistance boxes, saying they could potentially violate the Hatch Act, which prohibits public officials, with the exception of the president and the vice president, from engaging in political activity. USDA responded that the letters did not violate the Hatch Act.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.