Coulson Loptmann, a 21-year-old part-time barista, said he grabbed a plastic-wrapped sausage sandwich out of the trash can in the midst of a seven-hour shift on Monday. According to Loptmann, the sandwich was one of a few being thrown out because of its impending expiration.
Loptmann’s store manager found about Loptmann’s actions and contacted Starbucks’ human resources department.
Eating expired sandwiches out of the trash violates Starbucks' policies, according to a company spokesperson who was quoted in the article. But the rest of the story is in the final paragraph:
Loptmann, who is currently receiving food stamps, claims he had a great relationship with his employees and supervisors. He reportedly was hired in 2012 and has seen his shifts diminish to no more than 30 hours per week.If I were managing a coffee shop and I saw a 21-year-old employee who I knew to be on food stamps taking and eating an expired sandwich out of the trash can in the store--in the middle of a seven-hour shift, no less--I would be thinking more like a Christian and a mom and a human being than as a manager. Why are you doing this? Are you hungry? Do you need food? would be the kinds of questions I would be asking. The last thing that would occur to me would be to call human resources to report the incident. This, of course, is one reason why I would make a terrible coffee shop manager.
The bigger problem here is that our new definition of the working poor includes young men in their early 20s who can only find work for 30 hours a week or less and must apply for food stamps in an effort to have enough to eat--an effort that appears to be at least somewhat unsuccessful. But when your employer, worried that you will be counted as a "full-time employee" for mandatory government health care purposes if you regularly work more than 29 hours a week, cuts your hours down to the starvation point, is it any wonder that our new working poor need both government health care in the form of Medicaid and food stamps in order to survive?
The Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, made more than 16 million dollars in compensation last year and has a net worth of 1.6 billion dollars. Meanwhile, baristas like Coulson Loptmann make just under $10/hour, which at 30 hours a week is $300--and remember, that's for a week with the maximum number of hours, which is not going to be every week by any means. And the average rent for a one bedroom apartment in the Seattle area--Loptmann worked in a downtown Seattle area store--is just over $1000/month.
Maybe the baristas at Starbucks could set up a small box for food donations next to their tip jars. It could say "Food for the Working Poor." At least that way some of them wouldn't have to go a full seven-hour shift without eating, or resort to sneaking discarded food out of the store trash can.