Food for pantries should not be a political tool

To the editor:

This past week, the food pantry at South Congregational Church in Pittsfield received a surprise shipment of over 1,100 boxes of food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Each box weighed in at about 22 pounds and was a mix of perishable and nonperishable items. I was amazed at how our pantry volunteers were able to manage this huge delivery and unload it promptly so that much of the food could be distributed just as promptly.

It was upon distribution that we discovered we had been used. This delivery was part of an orchestrated campaign effort by the Trump administration to sway votes. Each box came with a campaign leaflet signed by the president telling each recipient the box came directly from the White House. To use much-needed food as a way to solicit votes is a blatant misuse of taxpayer funds that has garnered national attention. Some food banks and pantries were able to remove the leaflets before distribution, but most of us were unwitting victims.

As a church, we are not in the business of campaigning for any candidate. To be used this way is shameful. It is one more example of this administration’s willingness to break governmental norms to further concentrate power in the hands of the executive. We, the people, through our tax dollars, are the source of all that food. It is distributed through the USDA. It is not the largesse of any occupant of the White House.

Rev. Joel F. Huntington, Pittsfield

The writer is pastor of South Congregational Church.