Through its $4 billion “Farmers to Families” program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has distributed over 100 million family-sized boxes of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products—which should have gone to restaurants, hotels, and cafeterias if not for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic—to families in need. Starting from October, a letter signed by Trump is added to those food boxes.
The letter, printed on White House letterhead in both English and Spanish, reminds the recipient of Trump administration’s effort to secure adequate nutrition for America’s needy families amid the pandemic. It also recommends that Americans practice good hygiene, stay home when feel sick, protect the most vulnerable individuals, practice social distancing, and “consider wearing a face covering in public.”
The San Diego Unified School District specifically took issue with the president’s message regarding masks. According to district officials, it is wrong to recommend instead of order students to wear a mask.
“Science is clear: wearing a mask works to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” Superintendent Cindy Marten said in a statement, reported CBS San Diego. “Masks are required in California and on every San Diego Unified school campus. It is not optional, as the President wrote in his letter.”
Marten told CBS that the removal of Trump’s letter will occur as part of the existing delivery process, which requires every box to be opened before distribution.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest public school district in the nation, also announced it won’t include the letter when handing food boxes to families. Superintendent Austin Beutner said Wednesday that adding a letter from the president seeking reelection to federal relief packages is a violation of Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employee from using their official authority to affect the result of an election.
The Oakland Unified School District did not remove the letter, but issued a trigger warning particularly concerning illegal immigrant families. “OUSD is a sanctuary district, inside a sanctuary city, inside a sanctuary state, which means we support ALL of our students, families and staff no matter where they came from or how they got here,” it said.
The USDA denies the assertion that Trump is using the free groceries program to benefit his own reelection campaign. “Politics has played zero role in the Farmers to Families food box program,” the department said in a statement to Politico. “It is purely about helping farmers and distributors get food to Americans in need during this unprecedented time.”
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