Do McDonald’s Workers Qualify for Food Stamps?

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McDonalds_logoDetails of a secret phone recording between a McDonald’s worker and their “McResources” helpline have been exposed. Low Pay is Not OK, an American advocacy group speaking on behalf of underpaid fast food workers, has recorded a McDonald’s advisor telling an employee that they should be able to qualify for government programs such as SNAP (food stamps) and heating assistance subsidies.

Proof of salary below threshold of a living wage

The advocacy group is slamming McDonald’s and other fast food companies for giving their employees no choice but to apply for federal assistance through paying them such low wages. Other groups have expressed frustration and disappointment that the highly profitable fast food industry does not take matters into its own hands and give workers a decent wage, rather suggesting they turn towards federal assistance to make ends meet despite their hard work.

According to figures from CNNMoney, the poverty level for a family of 4 in the U.S is $23,000. The average McDonald’s employee makes only $18,500 per year.

Recorded conversation

During the recording of the phone conversation between a Chicago McDonald’s worker and the McResources helpline, the employee asked some questions regarding getting some help to pay for her heating, groceries and some medical expenses for her sister. The employee in question has worked for McDonald’s for 10 years and earns $8.25 per hour in her job as a full time employee. The helpline operator immediately suggested that would “definitely be able to qualify for both food stamps and heating assistance.” Never once during the conversation did the McDonald’s representative suggest asking for a pay rise, applying to any in-house assistance programs or applying for a more senior position within the company as a way to increase her income.

Helpline not free

Ironically, the McDonald’s “McResources” employee helpline has been created solely to help employees navigate their way through the complicated world of U.S. public assistance programs. Yet this helpline is not free for employees to access. It must be paid for by franchise owners so that their workers can call to ask advice from a company that will not be provided the solutions – the government and the U.S. taxpayer will.

What about fast food unions?

Following the news that fast food workers receive $7 billion in federal assistance, there have been clamors to create unions for the millions of fast food workers whose wages are so low that they are unable to support themselves. On the same day, a separate report released by the National Employment Law Project highlighted that of that $7 billion bill, McDonald’s employees received $1.2 billion in federal help to supplement their low wages. It is strongly believed that unions would help to improve working conditions and terms for fast food workers and pay them living wages and provide access to benefits. Until then, McDonald’s workers will unfortunately have to make a hard choice – suffer proudly but uncomfortably as they struggle to keep a food over their heads and their children fed, or apply for food stamps and other forms of assistance to help sustain themselves and their families despite working full-time.

Do you work for a fast food company? How do you survive on the wages you receive? Do you think that your employer should pay you more and stop turning to the government to solve what is their problem? Share your thoughts!




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