Nutrition in the Workplace

Lunch Breaks, Food Stamps, and Nutrition/Malnourishment

By: Rachel Cash

Shortened Lunch Breaks in "Nickel and Dimed"

In Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich mentioned that workers at The Maids were promised a half-hour lunch break, but they always ended up eating something they picked up at a convenience store on their way to their next house.

Rules About Lunch Breaks

According to federal law, employees are not required to have lunch or meal breaks. If employees are allowed to take short breaks that last 5 to 20 minutes, they are supposed to be paid for that time. Meal breaks that are at least 30 minutes do not need to be paid though.

Food Stamps

In the Nickel and Dimed chapter "Scrubbing in Maine," Ehrenreich has to apply for a food voucher because of extra expenses and a miscalculation. It takes many calls to actual get good information on how she can get assistance. Eventually, she gets a food voucher to cash in at a Shop-N-Save. She can only choose two things to buy, out of spaghetti noodles, spaghetti sauce, vegetables, baked beans, hamburger, Hamburger Helper or Tuna Helper. She can only choose cereal and milk or juice for breakfast.
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Malnourished Employees

A lot of the maids that Ehrenreich work with do not eat much for lunch; Rosalie eats only Doritos and admitted to feeling dizzy during the long shifts, and Holly usually has only a peanut butter cracker.
The article "Health, Nutrition, and Economic Development" says employees that eat more calories and are not malnourished are more productive while working.
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According to a survey in 2013 conducted by Hart Research Associates, 29% of low-wage workers have applied for food stamps. 50% of low-wage workers that make less than $10 per hour are worried about affording food.