How Fast Food Poverty Costs America Billions

Food Day has only been around for three years so is still in the process of getting traction. A lot will be going on at Daley Plaza here in Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 24 in the name of Grow Real, Cook Real, Eat Real, Live Real . Building A Healthier Chicago ,The Red Meat Market, Artizone Chicago , SaveAntibiotics , Slow Food Chicago , the USDA FNS, the Illinois Hunger Coalition will all be involved among others. The events will be focused on raising people’s awareness as well as the school children attending of the value of a vegetable grown with good seeds. Come to Daley Plaza between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. to see butchering demonstrations, raw food, Indian food, learn how to cast a fishing rod, learn about good versus bad seeds. As I kept to my mantra of one foot in front of the other, just keep moving, I was appreciative of the fact that I could at least participate and that I wasn’t in a hospital undergoing chemo or in a hospice like my mother who has since passed away. This year’s Chicago marathon taught me humility and showed me how so many different types of people from all walks of life and countries could get together and share a unique activity, running/walking through the neighborhoods of Chicago and be supportive of one another in the race. Good food, like running, brings people together. This year’s Chicago marathon (fantastically executed and thank you, Mother Nature!) was a step after step race for me. No matter my time as some of the banners along the race stated, “enjoy running, some day you won’t be able to.” I learned humility this year and the fact that no matter my slowness I was healthy and able to complete the course and that it’s okay to be a charity runner. I hope that like running, good food and what makes good food moves up in the public psyche and that Food Day gets traction and that as many people who focused on the Chicago marathon last Sunday will focus on what real food is about and why it matters next Thursday!

U.K. Food-Bank Users Return What Needs Cooking as Bills Rise

More than half of the nations 1.8million core fast-food workers rely on the federal safety net to make ends meet, the reports said. Together, they collect nearly $1.9billion through the earned income tax credit, $1billion in food stamps and $3.9billion through Medicaid and the Childrens Health Insurance Program, according to a report by economists at the University of California at Berkeleys Labor Center and the University of Illinois. More business news SHUTDOWN ENDS Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman Obama signs bill to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government; federal employees should expect to work Thursday. Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman The Senate and House approved legislation to raise the debt limit and end the federal shutdown. Zachary A. Goldfarb The deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling prolongs uncertainty and dodges tough issues. More business news Overall, the core fast-food workers are twice as likely to rely on public assistance than workers in other fields, said one of the reports, which examined nonmanagerial fast-food employees who work at least 11 hours a week and 27 weeks a year. Even among the 28 percent of fast-food workers who were on the job 40 hours a week, the report said, more than half relied on the federal safety net to get by. These statistics paint a picture of workers not being able to get their fair share of the largest, richest economy in the world, said Sylvia A. Allegretto, lead author of the report by the university economists, which was paid for by Fast Food Forward, a group that supports walkouts by fast-food workers. It is a good thing that we have these work supports, but they should be a last resort. Those workers are left to rely on the public safety net even though the nations seven largest publicly traded fast-food companies netted a combined $7.4billion in profits last year, while paying out $53million in salaries to their top executives and distributing $7.7billion to shareholders, according to the second report, by the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group. Fast-food industry representatives disputed the findings.

The study, Fast Food, Poverty Wages, was sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Urban & Regional Planning, and funded by the labor group Fast Food Forward. The estimates were based on government data. A second study , by the pro-union National Employment Law Project, extended the analysis to individual companies, estimating that McDonalds workers received $1.2 billion in public assistance while the corporation netted $5.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2012 profits, and devoted $5.5 billion to dividends and stock buybacks. This is the public cost of low-wage jobs in America, write the authors of the BerkeleyUrbana-Champaign study. The cost is public because taxpayers bear it. Yet it remains hidden in national policy debates about poverty, employment and federal spending. A spokesperson for McDonalds declined last night to comment on the fast food campaign or the extent of fast food workers use of public assistance. A spokesperson for the fast food giant emailed in August that Our history is full of examples who worked their first job with McDonalds and went on to successful careers both within and outside of McDonalds. The National Restaurant Association did not immediately respond to a Monday afternoon inquiry. As Salon first reported , New York City fast food workers mounted an unprecedented strike last November, the first in a wave of work stoppages around the country that included a 60-city walkout in August each demanding a raise of $15 an hour and the chance to unionize without intimidation. Little Caesars worker Julio Wilson said before walking off the job that hed made my way through the fast food circuit, with stints at Burger King, Subway, Arbys and McDonalds, and theyre all the same. He told Salon that many fellow employees and their families need to be compensated to be able to live. Funding todays university report represents the fast food campaigns latest salvo against the growing, increasingly representative and virtually union-free fast food industry. The key player behind the national campaign has been the Service Employees International Union. Along with a series of one-day strikes, organizers have targeted fast food companies with media, political, and consumer pressure. SEIU strategist Scott Courtney told Salon in August that given the disparity between McDonalds profits and workers poverty, the story is leverage in and of itself. Writing in defense of Wal-Mart in Slate in 2006,Jason Furman, who now chairs the White Houses Council of Economic Advisors, criticized critics who, like fast food activists, had cited hefty public assistance tolls in making their case. As far as I can tell, wrote Furman, these are cynical attempts to expand the appeal of the case against Wal-Mart, moving it beyond an appeal to the atavistic anti-corporate instincts of some progressives by playing on the atavistic anti-welfare, anti-government, anti-tax instincts of some conservatives. The authors of the BerkeleyUrbana-Champaign study call the public assistance programs whose costs they tally indispensable, saying they provide a last line of defense between Americas growing low-income workforce and the want of basic necessities. But they suggest that such programs would be more effective if they were combined with measures to improve wages and health benefits among low-wage workers, such as increasing the minimum wage, passing local laws to raise labor standards or facilitating union collective bargaining. Noting the difficulty of offshoring a fast food job, the scholars write, Rather than reflecting the competitive dictates of global product markets, the low-wage structure of fast-food and other domestic service industries reflects a mixture of market conditions and policy choices about minimum standards for work. Jason Flakes/U.S.

The time has come for an official and in-depth inquiry into the causes of food poverty and the consequent rise in the usage of food banks. Food prices have risen by 12.6 percent more than inflation over the past six years, outstripping wages, and higher energy prices are likely to see more people forced to choose between eating and heating this winter, the charity said. Food-bank clients are giving back food items that need cooking because they cant afford to turn on the electricity, the trust said. There are twice as many food banks as last year, accounting for some of the increase in demand, the trust said, though well-established food banks are also reporting that theyre helping more people. Welfare Overhaul An overhaul of the welfare system has led more people to seek help, the trust said, with 117,442 people referred to food banks by agencies including the health service, social workers and police because of delays in welfare payments compared with 35,597 last year. Camerons spokesman, Jean-Christophe Gray, said the increase had been driven by the government axing restrictions on officials referring people to food banks and reflected a British tradition of charitable help for the poor. Use of the facilities increased 10 times under the Labour government that left office in 2010, he added. Its this government that has lifted the block on job centers being able to point people in the direction of the type of additional assistance that food banks provide, Gray told reporters in London . The U.K. has a proud tradition of voluntary and charitable organisations providing additional support alongside the welfare system. The previous government stopped job centers, where job seekers register for unemployment benefit and seek work, issuing vouchers for food banks because they said other help was available and they could not provide consistent support as they were unevenly distributed around the country. Food-bank use increased from 2,814 people in 2005-2006 to 40,898 in 2009-2010, when Labour lost power, the Trussell Trust said. Food banks supported by the charity were used by 346,992 people in 2012-2013. To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Penny in London at tpenny@bloomberg.net To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net Volunteer Sorts Food at Food Bank Will Oliver/AFP via Getty Images There are twice as many food banks as last year, accounting for some of the increase in demand, the trust said, though well-established food banks are also reporting that theyre helping more people.