Aid group questions presidential letters included in food shipments

ORLANDO, Fla. — A local organization receiving shipments of food from the federal government is raising questions about an item that’s recently been included in the boxes.

For months, many aid organizations have been receiving boxes filled with fruits, vegetables and other food items through the USDA’s “Farmers to Families” food box program.

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“It’s one of the best congressional benefits out there from the CARES Act,” local union president Jeremy Haicken said.

The USDA announced the program back in April. In total, it has $4 billion to buy food that they then box and distribute.

To date, the department says more than 100 million boxes have been delivered to needy families.

Haicken’s union has been distributing the boxes for months, but they say just a few weeks ago, some families started calling about a signed letter from the president now included with the food.

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“And when we looked at the letter, it was honestly disgusting to us, because it feels like the president, one month before the election, is using food and starving workers' desperation to buy votes,” Haicken said.

The letter started going out over the summer.

A White House official said Friday that the letters serve to “highlight CDC guidelines on COVID-19 prevention and efforts to support our nationwide recovery.”

The letter offers advice like practicing good hygiene and staying home if you’re sick.

Some Democrats have argued the letters violate the Hatch Act, a federal law prohibiting White House Staff and agencies from using their positions or taxpayer resources to engage in electioneering.

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The union is expecting more USDA boxes to arrive Saturday.

They’ll again hand them out no later than 9 a.m. at the Seasons Florida resort in Kissimmee.