Friday, October 22, 2021

Play

Some states entice people back to the workplace by increasing safety standards and higher minimum wage; Bannon held in Contempt of Congress; and the latest cyber security concerns.

Play

House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress; Trump announces new social media platform TRUTH Social; and the Biden administration says it will continue to expel migrants under Title 42.

Play

An all-Black Oklahoma town joins big cities in seeking reparations; a Kentucky vaccination skeptic does a 180; telehealth proves invaluable during pandemic; and spooky destinations lure tourists at Halloween.

Hunger-Fighting Groups Raise Concerns about Trump Letter

Play

Monday, October 5, 2020   

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Anti-hunger advocates are expressing alarm at a new US Department of Agriculture requirement that millions of boxes of surplus food include a letter from President Donald Trump.

The letters - claiming credit for the program funded by the CARES Act - started appearing in some Farmers to Families Food Box program deliveries over the summer. But as of September, the agency has required private contractors, including not-for-profit groups, to include the letter when packing and distributing the food.

According to Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, this may put organizations that are legally prohibited from promoting political candidates in an untenable position.

"It's essentially blackmailing nonprofit groups that are doing this food distribution to say either you help advance the president's reelection or you have to say, 'Oh, we're not feeding hungry people,'" Berg said.

Congressional Democrats say the letter may violate the federal Hatch Act, prohibiting political activities by executive branch employees. But the USDA says it does not.

Berg contends the letter, which credits the president with prioritizing sending food to families during the pandemic and includes some suggestions on staying safe from the coronavirus, fails to pass a simple test.

"On a purely legal matter, the question is, does something have a governmental purpose? There's no governmental purpose, there's no commonsense purpose," he said. "The only logical purpose would be to aid a reelection campaign - and that would be illegal."

He added when he worked at the USDA during the Clinton administration, they removed even the USDA labels from food being sent to food banks.

While the contractors packing the food are now required to include the letters in every Farmers to Families Food Box package, Berg noted they may not be required when the food is finally delivered.

"We're being told food banks are getting guidance that they can take the letters out of the boxes, and I hope many of them do," he said. "We don't take sides in campaigns one way or another. We just don't think our tax dollars should be doing that, either."

Some food banks have reportedly consulted lawyers to make sure the letters don't jeopardize their nonprofit status or violate election laws.

Disclosure: Hunger Free America contributes to our fund for reporting on Hunger/Food/Nutrition. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
California has collected more than 600 tons of unwanted prescription drugs since the Take-Back Day program began in 2010. (Dodgerton Skillhause/Morguefile)

Health and Wellness

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, when the Drug Enforcement Administration encourages everyone to clean out …


Health and Wellness

BALTIMORE - This month marks the four-year anniversary of the #MeToo movement, and an art project aims to help incarcerated survivors heal by telling …

Environment

CASPER, Wyo. - A strong majority of voters across party lines say they want national rules similar to those passed in Wyoming to reduce methane …


Hispanic people are 2.3 times as likely to have died from COVID-19 than white/non-Hispanic people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

ARLINGTON, Va. - Although COVID-19 rates have gone down, the virus continues to hit the Hispanic community especially hard. Now, a new campaign aims …

Social Issues

BISMARCK, N.D. - A portion of American Rescue Plan funding sent to North Dakota has yet to be divvied up. Groups that want to improve the child-care …

Gov. Tom Wolf already has increased the minimum wage for state employees and contractors, which is set to reach $15 an hour by July 2024. (Gov. Tom Wolf/Flickr)

Social Issues

PITTSBURGH - As businesses across the country deal with a massive labor shortage, Pennsylvania aims to entice people back to the workplace by …

Environment

ALBANY, N.Y. - Environmental groups want Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign a bill that mandates monitoring the state's drinking water for "emerging …

Social Issues

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Gov. Mike Parson is facing calls to get the Missouri Cybersecurity Commission off the ground after it was created by the …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021