A Chick-fil-A employee has posted a video on TikTok purporting to show the amount of chicken nuggets that are thrown out by the fast-food chain daily.
In the footage, the worker can be seen by what appears to be another employee tossing away a full tray of chicken nuggets into the trash. The caption of the now-viral video read: “What they do every night with the chicken nuggets at Chick-fil-A.”
The video, which only lasted a few seconds, has since amassed more than 7.4 million views, per Newsweek.
The outlet reported that a user commented: “The amount of food we throw away and the amount of starving people there are just doesn’t sit right with me.”
One person who said they formerly worked at Chick-fil-A wrote that the chain’s workers were not allowed to take home uneaten food, or they would be penalized. “I used to work at [Chick-fil-A] and we would get written up if we took food home and didn’t throw it out. They were stingy [as f***] which is why I quit,” they alleged, according to Newsweek.
A spokesperson for Chick-fil-A told Insider in response to the video: “We aren’t able to determine which Chick-fil-A restaurant this occurred at but can provide some clarity to what may have occurred. Chick-fil-A restaurants have high food safety and quality standards, so when food falls outside a certain hold time we’re no longer able to safely serve it in our restaurants.”
According to Chick-fil-A’s website, the chain has a food donation program called Chick-fil-A Shared Table, which launched in 2012. The program is intended to fight hunger in local communities “by donating surplus food to local soup kitchens, shelters and nonprofits to feed those in need.”
It is unclear, however, if the Chick-fil-A location filmed in the video was part of the program.
The percentage of Americans facing hunger reached its lowest level yet last week since the pandemic began last March, suggesting direct federal aid has meaningfully helped families survive the coronavirus crisis, bolstering Democrats’ push for another expensive spending package on the horizon.
Data from the US Census Bureau released last week shows the percentage of US adults living in households that sometimes or often did not have enough to eat shrunk from 11% in March to around 8% late last month.
Census data from April also showed a decline in food insecurity rates right around the time millions of Americans began receiving direct stimulus checks from the federal government in mid-March. In just two weeks, hunger rates in the country dropped nearly 18%.
Last week’s data suggests that the downward trend in food insecurity is holding, following two rounds of federal stimulus in the last six months.
In December, Congress passed a $900 billion spending package that included $600 stimulus checks and $300 in added weekly unemployment benefits. Then, in March, the government passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which authorized $1,400 stimulus payments for most taxpayers and an expansion of several federal aid programs.
“Money helps,” Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, an economist and director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, told Politico. “We’re continuing to see signs of progress. That’s exciting. That’s good news,” Whitmore Schanzenbach, who has been tracking hunger rates over the past year said.
Since the pandemic began, the Census Bureau has been conducting surveys to track how Americans are faring when it comes to issues like debt, rent payments, and hunger. It is likely still too early to know how much of the decline in hunger rates have been caused by federal aid versus a bettering economy, but economists have said previous stimulus checks also resulted in less hunger, according to Politico.
In its 2020 Household Pulse Survey, the Census Bureau found that 80% of Americans who had received a stimulus check last spring spent it on food.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 22 million adults – 11 percent of all adults in the country – struggled to obtain the food they needed in the past week, including one in six households with children.
The Times reported that the administration has so far authorized the largest children’s summer feeding program in history, giving over $1 billion a month in increased food stamps and needy kids $1 a day for snacks. It also expanded a produce allowance for pregnant women and children.
“We haven’t seen an expansion of food assistance of this magnitude since the founding of the modern food stamp program in 1977,” James P. Ziliak, an economist at the University of Kentucky who studies nutrition programs, told the Times. “It’s a profound change.”
Dakota Kirby, 29, a single mother of two kids who lost her job at the start of the pandemic, told The Times she was struggling to make her $509 a month in food stamps last past three weeks and would have to ration her food to ensure her kids are fed.
The new measures have since given her family $930 a month from three support programs, or $10 a day for each person.
“That’s a big old jump!” she said, surprised at the news. “It will help tremendously.”
54 million or one in six Americans are projected to be food insecure by the end of the year, according to an analysis by Feeding America.
Feeding America, the largest anti-hunger organization in the United States, distributed 4.2 billion meals between March and October, with around 20% of its 200 food banks in danger of running out of supplies. This represents a 57% increase from last year, with around 4 in 10 visitors being first-timers, the Associated Press reported.
Almost 26 million people, or one in eight Americans, did not have enough food as of mid-November, the US Census Bureau found. A report commissioned by the Food Research & Action Center noted that 1 in 4 of those in food poverty typically had incomes above $50,000 a year before COVID-19, the Associated Press added.
The largest increases were seen among communities of color after they were disproportionately affected by high unemployment, infection, and death rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. One in five Black and Hispanic adults were struggling to find enough food while a third were behind on their rent, according to Forbes.
Several initiatives from The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which received a $450m boost, are set to expire on December 31. The $4.5bn Farmers to Families Food Box program, which has provided over 120 million food boxes, is the largest and has already run out in some areas, The Washington Post reported.
The program has already gone through four rounds of funding; $1.2bn was awarded in the first, $1.76bn in the second, $1bn in the third, and only $500m in the fourth. In a statement, the USDA said that the $500m had “resulted in some non-profits being unable to participate and fewer box deliveries,” The Washington Post added.
Various organizations have lobbied Congress for a 15% increase in food stamp benefits as was implemented during the 2008 recession. Still, it has not yet led to any action, according to the Digital Journal.
Children have also been acutely affected, with Feeding America estimating that 18 million or one in four have gone hungry by the end of this year, a 63% increase from 2018, The Guardian noted.
Both the Supplementary Nutritional Program (SNAP) and Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) help parents who no longer get free or subsidized school lunches. However, most P-EBTs expired at the end of September and some as early as July, Truthout reported. States can reapply but only Massachusetts has done this so far.
Meanwhile, if the SNAP increases currently under discussion in Congress are implemented, then each four-person family would receive less than a dollar per day as a maximum benefit. The House of Representatives passed a stimulus bill earlier this year to provide for an increase in SNAP benefits. Still, it has been bogged down in partisan squabbling, the Digital Journal added.
Lisa Davis, Senior Vice President of No Kid Hungry, told Business Insider: “One of the things that is very frustrating is that so much of the discussion in Congress has been around the cost of legislation. There’s no discussion about the cost of not taking action.
“There’s a very robust body of evidence that shows that when kids miss meals, it affects their physical health, how they perform in school or don’t perform, their graduation rates, and even their lifetime earnings, so the cost of doing nothing is very high. I worry a lot that we are looking at a lost generation of American kids.
“It’s very frustrating that we’re nine months into this pandemic and the last legislation to help families was back in April. Congress needs to take action immediately. Families that are struggling now can’t wait and unfortunately for millions of families across the US, this is going to be the hungriest holiday season they will ever face.”
Experts believe that there is likely “more hunger in the US today than at any point since 1998,” when the US Census Bureau first began tracking food poverty, according to The Washington Post.