Making more than the minimum

A hike in the minimum wage is all but inevitable. But what will it mean for the industry?

We had a little excitement this week near our corporate office in Chicagoland. More than 100 protesters were arrested Wednesday on the grounds of McDonald’s corporate headquarters, just down the road in Oak Brook. Those arrested were among 1,500 people who had marched on McDonald’s to demand that the fast-food giant raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

I thought about the protesters’ demand while watching the news that night and came away with mixed feelings. My first thought was that the current federal minimum hourly wage of $7.25 is just shy of criminal in this day and age. It really doesn’t matter whether you are a high school kid trying to save up for your first car, a college student trying to find a way to reduce the amount you have to borrow for school, or a single parent trying to feed your kids: $7.25 doesn’t go very far.

Politicians in a growing number of cities and states agree; 27 states currently have minimum wage rates above the federal wage. Seattle set the bar recently when city leaders announced a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021.

But my second thought was, what will a minimum wage hike mean for the economy? In particular, what could its effect be on the non-commercial foodservice industry?

From my conversations with foodservice employees in hospitals, colleges and the like, I know that in many cases the lowest wages are often above the minimum. But we also know that “doing more with less” is a popular mantra among administrators.

Over the years we’ve seen many institutions cut back on foodservice staff while exhorting remaining employees to work “smarter, not harder” as a way to manage their budgets. It might seem like a sound business decision, but in an industry where people are often the best commodity, reducing staff can only work so well, or for so long, before customers notice the quality drop-off.

It’s not hard to imagine—and be concerned about—the ripple effect of wage increases on non-commercial operators. As with so many beneficial changes, there will be caveats and cautions as the minimum wage increases. Will it be a “rising tide lifts all boats” kind of change or will it have a “climate change swamping coastal cities” effect?

As with all trends, this one bears monitoring, and I’d be interested in hearing or reading your thoughts. What will a rising minimum wage mean for your operations and the foodservice industry in general? Should we welcome it or fear it?

Drop me a note at pking@cspnet.com and share your thoughts.

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
chili flakes and peppers spicy hot

From Catallia.

When planning your menus, take note: college and university students think spicy is hot.

Fifty-seven percent of consumers age 18-34 find spicy flavors, “extremely appealing,” according to Technomic. And almost 50% of college students surveyed said they would like their schools to offer more ethnic foods and beverages, states a recent Technomic College & University Consumer Trend Report. Translation: they like their food kicked up a notch!

More Options than Ever

“Students of today are all about flavor,” says Steve Mangan, director of dining for...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo is partnering with celebrity chef Robert Irvine in an attempt to provide military communities with healthier meals.

The 10-year partnership will allow Sodexo to access chef Irvine’s knowledge of nutrition and fitness in its aim to benefit the quality of life for military members, the vendor said in a news release.

Sodexo hopes that Irvine’s popularity as the host of Food Network’s "Restaurant: Impossible" will draw attention to its commitment to nutrition, health and well being. Irvine also has a military history himself—before embarking on his culinary career, he...

Industry News & Opinion

The cafeteria at the Smithsonian's new National Museum for African American History and Culture is intended to be an extension of the museum, showcasing stations that offer cuisines from different geographic locations such as the Creole coast and agricultural South, Time reports .

The eatery, Sweet Home Cafe, was set up to highlight the wide range of African-American cuisine, Executive Chef Jerome Grant told Time. When it officially opens later this month, it will serve dishes such as shrimp and grits, pan-roasted oysters and a fried catfish po’boy.

Celebrity chef Carla...

Sponsored Content
Pierce boneless wings

From Pierce Chicken.

Spicy chicken wings have taken off as an iconic American food since their debut at the Anchor Bar Restaurant in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1964. They reached a new milestone during Super Bowl 50 weekend in February, when more than 1.3 billion wings were consumed, according to the National Chicken Council.

The emergence of boneless wings—breaded, boneless chunks of chicken breast with zesty flavors—has made a good thing even better. In fact, research shows that boneless wings complement traditional bone-in wings on restaurant menus, boosting the entire wing...

FSD Resources