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N.J. Organization Troubled By Letters From President Trump Taking Credit For Food Appearing In Donation Boxes

ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Letters from President Donald Trump have recently surfaced in food donation boxes across the country.

The notes claiming credit are irking local organizations. They say it's a form of political propaganda before the election, CBS2's Christina Fan reported Tuesday.

At a food distribution site in Elizabeth, there are two different sets of boxes. Those filled with fresh meat and produce head to hungry families, while the others are filled with crumpled pieces of paper James Carey of Elizabethport Presbyterian Center has been tossing out.

"It's appealing because it's protruding out of the box. But if you read it you're like, oh, this goes against our practices," Carey said.

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The food came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farmers to Families Program.

Inside every box is a letter signed by Trump that says in part, "I prioritized sending nutritious food from our famers to families in need throughout America."

Carey, who has been overseeing food distribution for more than a decade, said it's the first time he has seen what he calls blatant political propaganda.

As a charitable organization, he said he's prohibited from passing them out.

Many of the food recipients agreed.

"He shouldn't be taking credit," one person said.

"I think it is related to the election, so he can get re-elected," another said.

Others said they didn't see the message as political at all, saying they didn't have a problem with the letter.

The USDA sent CBS2 a statement saying, "Politics has played zero role in the Farmers to Families food box program" and "The letter from President Trump has been included for several months now and contains health information that is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19."

But Carey said the guidelines, themselves, pose another problem.

"Inside the flyer, Mr. Trump says consider wearing a mask. No, we tell everybody to wear a mask and practice social distancing," Carey said.

The White House told CBS2 the letters started going out in July, and that it is not political to distribute important information to underserved communities.

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