Idaho food bank to remove Trump letter from food-aid boxes

Mead Food Bank donations

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — A food bank in Idaho Falls has announced that it will remove letters from President Donald Trump located inside its federal food assistance boxes that address recipient families.

Community Food Basket Director Ariel Jackson said in a post on social media that the organization would not be distributing the letter with their Farmers to Families food boxes, the Post Register reported.

“It will be incredibly time consuming to remove them before giving the food to families but it is also the right thing to do,” Jackson said, arguing that they are not a political organization and the letter is inappropriate.

The letter, signed by Trump, says that citizen health is his top priority and that he has “prioritized sending nutritious food from our farmers to families in need throughout America” in response to the pandemic. The letter also includes a list of recommended health practices.

The Community Food Basket receives the food boxes through the government’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which buys surplus produce, dairy and meat from farmers for community distribution.

The Idaho Falls organization receives 200 30-pound (13-kilogram) boxes to give to 200 families each week, officials said. The group also receives 1,000 boxes once a month to hand out in a mass distribution event. The next event is scheduled for Oct. 16 in the Grand Teton Mall parking lot.

“Sometimes people who are struggling are so grateful for the help that they have received that they feel indebted or beholden to someone who has provided assistance. And we don’t want to in any way imply that something is owed for receiving these food boxes,” Jackson said.

Some, including dozens of Congress members, have argued the letter violates the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive branch employees from using their official authority to affect the result of an election.

“We have never tried to sway a hungry person or family’s political belief system and we won’t start now,” Jackson said.