This is the web version of a list we publish twice-weekly in our newsletter. It comprises the most noteworthy food stories of the moment, selected by our editors. Get it first here.
SNAPping back. Just before the holidays, USDA announced a rule that would roll back SNAP work requirement waivers in many places, a move that could bump more than 750,000 people out of the food stamp program. Now, incoming Democrats plan to fight the change via the House Rules Committee, Politico’s Morning Agriculture reports.
Raises for fast food workers…and anyone else who makes minimum wage. On January 1, states raised minimum wages for an estimated 17 million workers, USA Today reports. The changes range from Alaska’s five-cent bump from $9.84 to $9.89 to a two-dollar increase in New York City ($15 for all non-tipped workers at companies with more than eleven employees).
...and overtime for farmworkers in California. As of January 1, people who work more than 9.5 hours in a day on California farms with 26 or more employees are eligible for overtime pay. Smaller farms have three years to comply, and the definition of overtime will decrease to 8 hours of work starting in 2022. Farmworkers will also receive double pay after working past a seventh consecutive day. Supporters say the new policy is way overdue; critics say the change may push up the cost of produce and speed the adoption of automation, KSBY News reports.
Dollar menu. Blue Apron’s stock dipped below $1 late last month, down from $10 on its first day of trading, CNBC reports. It swung back to $1.12 after the company announced a partnership with Weight Watchers, and at press time it hovered around $1.02. If a stock closes below $1 per share for 30 consecutive days, it’s delisted, which means Blue Apron stock would no longer be traded on major exchanges. The meal-kit bubble? Consider it burst.
Water wars. Wisconsin residents are taking on big farming operations in a series of battles over water use, Josephine Marcotty writes in an in-depth feature for the Star Tribune. Neighbors of the state’s massive dairy and vegetable farms are protesting irrigation that’s drying up rivers and nitrate pollution from fertilizer so toxic that it’s been linked to the death of at least one infant. A broad coalition of conservationists and neighbors have filed a lawsuit against the state, alleging that it failed to protect water as a public resource. It’s a bold move that could have huge implications for the state’s $88 billion agriculture industry, and it shows just what communal action can accomplish.
Hunger gaps. More and more people are going hungry in San Francisco, despite an increase in municipal spending on nutrition programs, Tara Duggan reports for the San Francisco Chronicle—a finding outlined in the city’s latest assessment of food security. The report describes a set of complex factors that contribute to the crisis. First, there are personal factors, from not having a kitchen to the city’s failure to provide accessible transportation. Then there are systemic and economic forces: The number of families living below the poverty line is rising, while participation in two crucial federal nutrition programs—Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—is on the decline, just as the Trump administration continues to pursue policies that make it harder for people to access food.
Carl’s Jr. eyes vegans. Last time we wrote about Carl’s Jr., it was because the company’s then-CEO was trudging through a doomed confirmation process as Trump’s pick for Secretary of Labor. Andrew Puzder and the burger chain have since gone their separate ways—Puzder wrote a book titled The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left’s Plot to Stop It, and Carl’s Jr. seems to want to shed the “Hooters-lite” image Puzder championed. This week, the chain announced it will partner with Beyond Burger to bring plant-based patties to 1,100 restaurants until Jan 31—with no bikinis in sight.