U.k. Food-bank Users Return What Needs Cooking As Bills Rise

‘Chinese Food’ Song Deemed Offensive, Viral Video Producer Responds

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and public benefit programs show 52 percent of fast-food cooks, cashiers and other “front-line” staff had relied on at least one form of public assistance, such as Medicaid, food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit program, between 2007 and 2011, researchers at the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Illinois said. The Berkeley study was sponsored by the two universities and received funding from the pro-labor organization Fast Food Forward. In a concurrent report which drew from some of the same data, the pro-labor National Employment Law Project found that the 10 largest fast-food companies in the United States cost taxpayers more than $3.8 billion each year in public assistance because the workers do not make enough to pay for basic necessities themselves. “It doesn’t matter whether you work or shop at McDonald’s or not, the low-wage business model is expensive for everybody,” said NELP policy analyst Jack Temple, who worked on the report. “Companies … are basically pushing off part of their costs on the taxpayers.” The studies follow large nationwide demonstrations in August, when fast-food workers went on strike and protested outside McDonald’s, Burger King and other restaurants in 60 U.S. cities, demanding a “living wage” of $15 per hour. The U.S. fast-food industry generates sales of $200 billion a year. A spokeswoman for McDonald’s Corp said in a statement that the company’s franchisees “provide jobs in every state to hundreds of thousands of people” and that these jobs “range from entry-level, part-time to full-time.” “Our history is full of examples of individuals who worked their first job with McDonald’s and went on to successful careers both within and outside of McDonald’s,” the company said. Burger King Worldwide Inc did not respond to requests for comment. Wendy’s Co declined to comment, and Yum Brands Inc did not provide a comment. Such companies have long said that mostly young people do the entry-level work of flipping burgers or making milkshakes.

Food-Bank Users Return What Needs Cooking as Bills Rise By Thomas Penny – 2013-10-16T13:31:16Z The number of users of food banks in the U.K. tripled in the past year, with some of them abandoning cooking because of increasing energy prices, an anti-poverty charity said. 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.

But its controversial this time, with some claiming the song is offensive because of its overt use of stereotypes. Ark Music Factory co-founder Patrice Wilson, who wrote and produced Friday, which now has more than 220 million views on YouTube, created the song, Chinese Food, which features 11-year-old Alison Golds singing about the Chinese food dishes she loves to eat after a night of hitting the club. The Los Angeles-based production company is known for its sassy, tongue-in-cheek, teeny pop tunes. Wilson has also found success with his Its Thanksgiving song from teen singer Nicole Westbrook. But the imagery used in the Chinese Foodmusic video, which was posted on YouTube three days ago and already has more than 7 million views, has some crying foul. With lyrics like, I love Chinese food. You know that its true. I love fried rice, I love noodles, I love chow mein, chow m-m-m-mein, Alison and other young girls in the video are seen dressed in geisha garb even though geisha is from Japanese culture. In another scene, they are playing Monopoly to the tune of I like Chinese food and some wonton soup. Get me broccoli while I play Monopoly. The camera zooms in on a dog figurine on Oriental Avenue on a Monopoly board. In another scene, Alison is frolicking through a field with Wilson, in a giant panda suit, by her side. At the end of the video, the giant panda throws a fortune cookie at the camera.