Ivanka Trump took to Instagram for the first time in eight months to share photos of herself volunteering with a food drive in upstate New York.
The 40-year-old, who hasn’t updated followers since she posted a photo of herself getting a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in May of 2021, returned to the social media platform this morning to thank those who helped feed the needy this holiday season.
Lending a helping hand herself, Ivanka had teamed up with billionaire Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya to deliver produce to families in need last week, and she shared snapshots from her day handing out fruits and vegetables in Rochester.
‘Thank you to our many incredible partners and volunteers who helped feed tens of thousands American families across Idaho and NY, with fresh, nutritious, locally-sourced produce and dairy this holiday season,’ she wrote.
Ivanka Trump took to Instagram for the first time in eight months to share photos of herself volunteering with a food drive in upstate New York
Ivanka had teamed up with Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya to deliver produce to families in need last week, and she shared snapshots from her day handing out fruits and vegetables in Rochester
Ivanka has been living in Miami with her family since the end of her father’s single term in January of 2021, but on Friday she traveled to upstate New York to help with efforts to fight food insecurity.
On Instagram, she shared snapshots of the day she turned up to get involved in the efforts, dressed for cold weather in a gray parka layered over a cream-colored turtleneck and jeans. She accessorized with a pair of mustard-colored gloves and brown lace-up boots.
In one image, Ivanka stands on an icy sidewalk near a large stack of brown cardboard boxes. Next to her is a child holding a sign reading ‘free food boxes,’ and a bit of snow can be seen coming down.
Another image shows Ivanka holding a box while in conversation with a man, while a third shows the mother-of-three pulling a box out of someone’s car. In yet another image, a smiling Ivanka carried a basket piled high with apples, a big smile on her face.
She also took a tour of Hurd’s Orchards, a fruit and flower farm and canning company in Holley, New York.
In another photo, Ivanka is seen in a black coat during a visit to help with distribution in Twin Falls, Idaho in December.
According to a representative, she has also participated in zoom conversations with recipients and with farmers.
The partnership with Chobani founder Ulukaya — who is estimated to be worth $2.3 billion according to Forbes — is surprising considering his criticism of Ivanka’s father at the beginning of his term.
In an internal memo leaked to CNN in 2017, Ulukaya, took issue with Trump’s travel ban from predominantly Muslim countries.
‘Thank you to our many incredible partners and volunteers who helped feed tens of thousands American families across Idaho and NY, with fresh, nutritious, locally-sourced produce and dairy this holiday season,’ she wrote
She dressed for cold weather in a gray parka layered over a cream-colored turtleneck and jeans, and accessorized with yellow gloves and brown boots
She also took a tour of Hurd’s Orchards, a fruit and flower farm and canning company in Holley, New York
Ivanka has been living in Miami y since the end of her father’s term in January of 2021, but on Friday she traveled to upstate New York to help with efforts to fight food insecurity
‘This is very personal for me,’ Ulukaya, a Kurd from Turkey, wrote. ‘As an immigrant who came to this country looking for opportunity, it’s very difficult to think about and imagine what millions of people around the world must be feeling right now.
‘America has always been a symbol of hope, tolerance and diversity — and these are values we must work very hard to uphold,’ he wrote, offering to help employees whose families were impacted by the ban.
The criticism goes in both directions. In 2016, some far-right conservatives called for a boycott against Chobani over Ulukaya’s practice of hiring refugees.
Yet Ivanka appears to have a cordial relationship with Ulukaya, and referenced a lunch she shared with him last year where the pair planned their food-donation initiative across New York and Idaho.
‘This really evolved out of a discussion Hamdi and I had over lunch once day as the holidays were approaching and the dollar is going less far due to inflation,’ she told The Post of their partnership.
‘The need is very real and certainly no one program is going to fulfill it but every little bit we can do helps and Hamdi and I were both really happy to give back a little bit during the holidays,’ she added.
On Instagram, she lauded the efforts of volunteers and rattled off statistics about their work. She said that 1.1 million pounds of locally sourced dairy and produce were delivered, 1.3 million meals were served, 52,000 food boxes were distributed.
She also noted that the initiative was ‘100% privately funded.’
‘This really evolved out of a discussion Hamdi and I had over lunch once day as the holidays were approaching and the dollar is going less far due to inflation,’ she said
‘The need is very real and certainly no one program is going to fulfill it but every little bit we can do helps and Hamdi and I were both really happy to give back a little bit during the holidays,’ she added
She lauded the efforts of volunteers and rattled off statistics about their work. She also noted that the initiative was ‘100% privately funded’
The focus on private funding may be in reference to the federal Farmers-to-Families Food Box Program that she championed during her father’s administration.
The program, which was designed to deliver fresh produce to families in need during the pandemic, began in May 2020 as part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.
The partnership with Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya is surprising considering Ulukaya’s criticism of Ivanka’s father regarding his travel ban on Muslim-majority countries
The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service was authorized to buy up to $6 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat from US distributors and transport them to nonprofits like food banks.
According to the program’s website, it was responsible for delivering 173,699,775 boxes of food from May 2020 to May 2021.
Ivanka had heavily promoted the program, saying last January: ‘You start with food and you move from there to impacting people’s lives in other sustainable long-term ways.’
She had taken part in numerous distribution events, and frequently promoted the program on social media.
‘I think when you work in the White House, you tend to have your calls returned,’ she told USA Today. ‘And I think most Americans are patriots and want to answer the call to action when things are requested of them.
‘I’m not shy about asking people to step up to the plate. The whole country needs to be galvanized in the effort, both to combat this deadly virus, but also to rebuild … to rebuild our economy as we emerge,’ she said.
However, the program came under fire amid reports that it was ‘mismanaged’ and used for ‘political gain’ by the Trump administration.
After a ProPublica investigation found that contracts were granted to companies without relevant experience — or even the necessary licenses — a report from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis later determined that the Trump administration didn’t screen contractor applications adequately.
Ivanka had previously championed the USDA’s Farmers-to-Families Food Box Program which worked toward providing food to families in need during the pandemic (pictured: Dec. 2020)
However, the program came under fire amid reports that it was ‘mismanaged’ and used for ‘political gain’ by the Trump administration
For example, one company, called CRE8AD8 LLC, which received a $39 million contract was actually a wedding and event planning firm.
What’s more, many of the food boxes that were distributed included a signed letter from then-President Trump, which critics said turned the assistance program into something partisan.
In its findings, the congressional report revealed that in the six weeks leading up to the election, vendors employed by the program were ‘required include in all outgoing boxes a letter signed by President Trump in which he took credit for sending out the food, despite the fact that the boxes were to be distributed through apolitical nonprofit organizations.’
The congressional report also found that the program was responsible for delivering ‘windfall profits to unqualified food distributors who wasted taxpayer dollars.’
The panel also charged the vendors with contributing to ‘food waste’ by failing to provide timely deliveries, delivering food in unsafe packaging, and pressuring recipients to accept more food than they could reasonably distribute or store.
One nonprofit director said a contractor, YEGG, once delivered 2,500 more gallons of milk than planned, adding: ‘I had to pay for that refrigeration out of my own pocket.’
Another recipient said of CRE8AD8: ‘They didn’t understand that you couldn’t send us bad food and expect us to take it.’
Ivanka Trump helps distribute food boxes as part of the Farmers to Families food box program in July of 2020
The congressional report found that the program was responsible for delivering ‘windfall profits to unqualified food distributors who wasted taxpayer dollars’
Recipient nonprofits also told the panel that contractors delivered ‘rotten food and wet or collapsing boxes,’ provided large amounts of commercially packaged meat inappropriate for family consumption, or delivered produce at temperatures that presented a ‘food safety issue.’
Profits for the contractors were large.
CRE8AD8, which was ultimately paid $31.5 million in taxpayer funds, said its profits were between 10 and 25 percent — a total of $3.1 million to $7.75 million for one month of deliveries.
Yegg repeatedly charged taxpayers a 50 percent markup on the amount that it paid to a dairy for milk boxes, despite acting as little more than a middleman, the panel charged.
Yet in December, Ivanka slammed the allegations.
‘It’s unfortunate, yet hardly surprising to see the media work hand in hand with congressional democrats in a desperate and transparent effort to distract from the staggering incompetence of the current administration,’ a spokesperson for Ivanka told DailyMail.com.
Her spokesperson pointed out that Democrats had supported the program as well.
‘This was a wildly successful program that fed tens of millions of hungry people and kept small American farms afloat through the worst lows of the pandemic. Don’t take our word for it — Democratic Senator Durbin and Representative DeLauro were effusive in their praise of the program,’ Ivanka Trump’s spokesperson said.
Though the program got an infusion of cash last January — reportedly at Ivanka’s urging — it was discontinued in May.