Low Fast-food Wages Come At High Public Cost, Reports Say

The Trussell Trust , which supports food banks that provide three days emergency supplies to people in need, said today 355,985 people had been helped between May and September this year, compared with 113,570 in the same period last year. It wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron requesting an inquiry. The level of food poverty in the U.K. is not acceptable. Its scandalous and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people, Trussell Trust Executive Chairman Chris Mould said in an e-mailed statement. 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.

10 Things to Know About Food on World Food Day

The generation of farmers now on the land is the first to face manmade climate change. In addition to wells going dry and soils eroding, both at an unprecedented pace, the generation of farmers now on the land is the first to face manmade climate change. Agriculture as it exists today developed over 11,000 years of rather remarkable climate stability. It has evolved to maximize production within that climate system. Now, suddenly, the climate is changing . With each passing year, the agricultural system is more and more out of sync with the climate system. At no time since agriculture began has the world faced such a predictably massive threat to food production as that posed by the melting mountain glaciers of Asia. Mountain glaciers are melting in the Andes, the Rocky Mountains, the Alps, and elsewhere, but nowhere does melting threaten world food security more than in the glaciers of the Himalayas and on the Tibetan Plateau that feed the major rivers of India and China. Ice melt helps sustain these rivers during the dry season. In the Indus, Ganges, Yellow, and Yangtze river basins, where irrigated agriculture depends heavily on rivers, the loss of glacial-fed, dry-season flow will shrink harvests and could create potentially unmanageable food shortages. After several decades of raising grain yields, farmers in the more agriculturally advanced countries have recently hit a glass ceiling , one imposed by the limits of photosynthesis itself. In Japan, the longtime leader in raising cropland productivity, the rise in the yield of rice that began in the 1880s essentially came to a halt in 1996. Having maximized productivity, farmers ran into the inherent limits of photosynthesis and could no longer increase the amount they could harvest from a given plot. In China, rice yields are now just 4 percent below Japan’s. Unless China can raise its yields above those in Japan, which seems unlikely, it, too, is facing a plateauing of rice yields.

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. Their restaurants offer a valuable entry into the workforce for millions of people, they said, including the 40percent who are students. These misleading efforts use a very narrow lens and selective data to attack the industry for their own purposes, and fail to recognize that the majority of lower-wage employees work part-time to supplement a family income, said Scott DeFife, executive vice president of the National Restaurant Association. The inclusion of the earned income tax credit shows just how misleading these efforts are, as it is a tax credit specifically designed for working families, not public assistance, and is used to inflate their numbers. But many others are trying to support households, advocates said. They pointed to the growing activism among fast-food workers, poorly paid employees of federal contractors and other low-wage workers who for the past year have been calling a series of small but growing number of one-day strikes. They are demanding pay raises to $15 an hour and an easier route to forming unions. The job actions are supported by organized labor groups, including the Service Employees International Union and Change to Win, which are lending staff and cash to the effort.