Sick workers, sick customers?

This story from Eliza Barclay at NPR’s The Salt discusses some of the findings from the Food Chain Workers Alliance‘s new report, “The Hands That Feed Us: Challenges and Opportunities for Workers Along the Food Chain.” (Click here for the comprehensive, 92-page PDF.) As Barclay describes, “the Alliance found that only 13.5 percent of workers earn ‘livable wages.’ The rest receive below minimum wage or low wages, and have little or no access to paid sick days and health benefits. Only 21 percent of the workers surveyed said they could take a paid sick day. That has serious consequences for consumers, the group says, who are put at increased risk of foodborne illness when sick workers touch their food.” For the full article, head here.

The report looks at much more than food-service workers’ access to sick leave. For example, as this graphic shows, “Food system workers use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce. Food industry employees are also more likely receive Medicaid than other industries. Nearly 28% of food system employees are on Medicaid, compared to 19.36% of all industries. Due to a lack of employer-provided health benefits, more than one third of all workers surveyed (34.8%) report using the emergency room for primary health care. In addition, 80 percent of these workers are unable to pay for such care.”

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