Food stamps cost $1.04 billion a year on average, and the earned income tax credit cost $1.91 billion. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program cost $90 million. The report found that the restaurant and food service sector has the highest public program participation rate of any industry. And fast-food workers and their families are more than twice as likely as other working families to be enrolled in public programs because of their low wages, limited work hours and low benefits. Acuna, 41, said she qualifies for $175 a month from a federal program that provides what is known as food stamps. The mother of four said her husband works part time at a manufacturing company, but she is the breadwinner, working a 4:15 a.m.-to-11 a.m. shift in the kitchen of one McDonald’s restaurant and a 9 p.m.-to-4 a.m. shift in the kitchen of another one nearby. She makes $8.40 per hour at one and $8.75 at the other. McDonald’s said in a statement that its wages are based on local wage laws and are competitive to similar jobs in that market. “The fact is that McDonald’s and our independent franchisees provide jobs in every state to hundreds of thousands of people across the country. Those jobs range from entry-level part-time to full-time, and we offer everyone the same opportunity for advancement,” McDonald’s said. Tyree Johnson, 45, said he works 15 hours every two weeks unloading boxes at a fast-food restaurant. He qualifies for $200 per month of federal assistance for food and lives in a hotel that charges $90 per week.
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.