Politics

Denver Coalition to Trump: You Can't Buy Hungry People's Votes With Food

For the Farmers to Families Food Boxes program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture works with local groups such as the Denver Community Food Access Coalition.
For the Farmers to Families Food Boxes program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture works with local groups such as the Denver Community Food Access Coalition. U.S. Department of Agriculture
In these final days before the November 3 election, President Donald Trump is doing everything he can to win votes, including staging COVID-19 pandemic-defying rallies that cause paroxysms among public-health efforts. But in Denver, one of his tactics — placing a self-aggrandizing letter in food boxes provided to hungry people in need — isn't going to work.

That's because the Denver Community Food Access Coalition, which is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the Farmers to Families Food Boxes program, is removing the letters before distributing this bounty.

Teva Sinicki, the CEO of Metro Caring, a coalition member, notes in a statement, "We are not pawns in this election. The largest public health and economic crisis Colorado has ever seen is not the time to exploit taxpayers' hard-earned dollars and manipulate overworked direct service providers in an attempt to bolster one’s own reelection campaign."

Other DCFAC member organizations, which include Hunger Free Colorado, Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, GrowHaus, Denver Urban Gardens, Re:Vision, Sprout City Farms and Montbello Organizing Committee and Denver Food Rescue, are on the same page.  According to Christine Alford, executive director of Denver Food Rescue: "Politicizing the one lifeline Colorado families have left during this health pandemic and economic crisis by putting these letters in food boxes is shameful and degrading."

Here's a look at the Trump missive:

click to enlarge COURTESY OF DENVER COMMUNITY FOOD ACCESS COALITION
Courtesy of Denver Community Food Access Coalition
While the letter is supposedly written by Trump, it sounds absolutely nothing like the man whose bellicose tweets have become his trademark. "As President, safeguarding the health and well-being of our citizens is one of my highest priorities," it begins. "As part of our response to the coronavirus, I prioritized sending nutritious food from our farmers to families in need throughout America."

This overly empathetic tone persists throughout — but assorted Trump themes still filter through the polite language.

For instance, the lines urging "all Americans to continue to adhere to the important precautions set forth in the President's Coronavirus Guidelines for America and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding how to best protect your family" are followed by a list of safety measures that ends with merely mild encouragement for folks to "consider" wearing a facial covering in public, rather than an admonishment to actually do so. Likewise, the claim that "you and your loved ones are cherished members of our great American family" is followed by an insistence that "this pandemic has brought many hardships on millions of hardworking individuals and communities through no fault of our own," suggesting that his administration's response has been perfection itself.

JoAnna Cintrón, Re:Vision's executive director, puts her focus on other issues. "Coloradans do not go hungry because of a lack of food in our state," she says. "Coloradans go hungry because they don’t have enough money to put food on the table. This means that we need to not only talk about the need for a new relief package and improvements to the safety net, but also work together for a living wage, the racial wealth gap, paid family medical leave, and an economy where anyone can provide the basics for themselves and their family."

If these assertions were put in a letter, Trump's name definitely wouldn't be on it.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts