The controversy surrounding a letter included in boxes distributed by the United States Department of Agriculture has reared itself in Sturgeon Bay.
In a statement posted online on Saturday, the United Way of Door County admitted it made the decision to remove a letter from the Farmers to Families given out on Wednesday because it was signed by President Donald Trump. It states that as a 501 (c) 3 charity associated with United Way Worldwide, it is prohibited from distributing materials that could be deemed political. In place of the letter, volunteers placed a resource envelope with information from a number of sources including local food pantries and the League of Women Voters of Door County. The resource envelope had been given at previous events, though separate from the boxes themselves Facebook users charged the organization with playing politics with the boxes by removing the letter. Some pointed out that the letter was not political in nature and there is a difference between "President" Trump and "candidate" Trump.
According to NEO Law Group, non-profit groups are prohibited from engaging in electioneering activities and could have their status stripped. The letter signed by Trump gives information about the 50 million Farmers to Families Food Boxes distributed so far this year as well as emphasizing the Centers for Disease Control recommendations surrounding the coronavirus. Politico reports that non-profits and food pantries across the country have struggled with the idea of distributing the boxes with the letter with worries that it may be construed as an election activity. While some food banks have ignored the mandate, a food bank in Oregon stopped distributing the packages out of concern for losing its non-profit status.
The next USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program distribution event in Door County is Wednesday at the former Shopko in Sister Bay.
Photo from the United Way of Door County from a Farmers to Families distribution box event in June.