Our country’s increasing wealth gap is having massive impacts on our food workers’ rights, specifically in the restaurant industry. This project will take an in-depth look at workers’ stagnant wages, inability for upward advancement, and lack of paid sick leave, from both the employee and employers sides of this struggle. Through video, photography, audio, and illustration, Feeding The Giant hopes to bring these stories to life through a human-centered lens.
Our Food System is Broken:
With over 11 million workers, the restaurant industry is the second largest sector of the US economy and continues to grow today. Unfortunately, the backbone of this industry – the restaurant workers themselves – have been left out of the economic boom, unable to see the fruits of their labor in an industry that could be pushing them toward a brighter future. Instead, many employees face dismal working conditions, such as low or unpaid work, lack of internal promotion, and non-exist benefits. The federal minimum wage has been locked at $2.13 hour for tipped workers for the past twenty-three years, dating back to 1991, and this forces tipped employees to rely solely on gratuities to make ends meet, an antiquate form of economy that in post-Civil War America was called, “a cancer in the breast of democracy,” and in contemporary America has been proven to fuel sexual harassment and racial discrimination.
Many organizations are currently fighting for the rights our restaurant workers, including ROC United, Fight for 15, Food Chain Workers Alliance, UNITED HERE – Food Service Division, and Brandworkers International. All of these organizations and many more have been massive inspirations to me. Feeding The Giant aims to help bring the silenced voices of our country’s restaurant workforce to the forefront because this is an issue that affects us all.
I’m a designer and photographer. Growing up falling asleep to epic bedtime sagas, listening to talk radio about foreign lands, and watching documentaries about interesting characters, I’ve always been passionate about people, cultures and stories. At IDEO, I work with a multidisciplinary team to tell some of our most complex and challenging stories including redefining the cafeteria experience for San Francisco students, improving the voting system in Los Angeles County, and tackling daunting societal problems through a conceptual project called Designs On—. I love the challenge of exploring complex issues through the eyes of those at the core.