Walmart: Food Stamps Spree Caused By Xerox

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.

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. The unions aim to increase pressure on lawmakers to raise the $7.25-per-hour federal minium wage while highlighting widening economic inequality. Tionnie Cross, 29, works at a McDonalds in Brooklyn, where she makes $7.35 an hour. Most weeks she is assigned no more than 28 hours, leaving her to rely on food stamps and government-sponsored health care to make ends meet, she said. I have a job, and Im broke, she said. It is really bad, because I dont want to depend on taxpayer money to survive. Fast-food industry representatives call the workers demands unrealistic. Raising wages for cooks, cashiers and drive-through window workers who are paid a median wage of $8.69 an hour, according to the report by the Illinois and Berkeley economists would ultimately cause these businesses to hire fewer workers overall, they argue.

Kayla Whiting, a spokeswoman atWal-Mart’s Bentonville,Arkansas, headquarters, pointed to Xerox as the source of the problem and referred further questions to Xerox. Xerox corporate spokesmanBill McKeeprovided a written company statement saying that Xerox has a “documented process for retailers likeWal-Martto follow in response to EBT outages.” But the statement left unclear who would cover the unauthorized spending, and it referred further questions toWalmart. Louisianaofficials said they had no intention of being left holding the bag. “The outage was the result of failures by our contractor, Xerox,” saidTrey Williams, a spokesman for theLouisianaDepartment of Children and Family Services. He said emergency procedures in place with Xerox allow retailers to call a phone number and receive authorization for purchases any time the EBT system is down. “Some retailers chose not to follow the process,” he said. “Those businesses are only being reimbursed for the (maximum) amounts on individual cards,” he said. Williams said that amounts transacted above the cards’ available balances were returned toWal-Martmarked “as insufficient funds.” He could not provide an estimate of the total amount of overspending or say who will cover it in the end. “That’s a conversation between Xerox and the retailer,” he said. CARTS FULL OF GROCERIES Springhill’s Lynd arrived at his town’sWalmartstoreat about 7 p.m. local time and found a few hundred shoppers jamming checkout lines with carts filled to overflowing. Lynd said he told the manager that the store had a right to refuse service, but the manager said she had contactedWal-Martheadquarters and was told to accept the cards. The shoppers “decimated the grocery section ofWalmart,” Lynd said. The shoppers broke no laws, Lynd said, adding that police intervention was not required to disperse the crowd. At about 9 p.m.,Walmartsaid that the glitch had been fixed and the EBT cards were again showing appropriate spending limits.

Food events in the Washington area

10 a.m.-noon. $25. Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, 1632 U St. NW. 202-483-8600. smithcenter.org . DIWALI MELA: A celebration with food, vendors, music and dancing. Noon-6 p.m. $21.95; $12.95 children ages 4-10. Indique Heights, 2 Wisconsin Circle , Chevy Chase. 301-656-4822. www.indiqueheights.com . EQUINE WINE FESTIVAL: Featuring the Winery at Olney, with food for sale, wagon rides and other activities. A portion of the proceeds goes the Potomac Valley Dressage Association Ride for Life in support of Johns Hopkins breast cancer activities. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.