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Fast-food Drive-thrus Are Getting Slower

The House’s food stamps cuts aren’t just cruel. They’re dumb.

A link has been sent to your friend’s email address. 3 To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs This story is part of the series health Fed up with food allergies? USA TODAY 2:27 a.m. EDT September 30, 2013 Take firm action with these tips on eating away from home. Fed up with food allergies? Follow these tips when eating away from home. (Photo: David Baratz/USA WEEKEND) SHARE 7 CONNECT 2 TWEET 3 COMMENTEMAILMORE If you have food allergies, you know eating even a bit of your trigger food can cause a reaction, from mild (hives, itchy mouth) to severe (trouble swallowing, shortness of breath, even loss of consciousness). The only prevention: Avoid the trigger food. And that’s easier said than done. In one of the latest efforts to manage food allergies, UCLA researchers created a portable device still in prototype stage that attaches to your smartphoneand analyzes food right on the spot for allergens. Until that’s in the real world, here are some tips on avoiding allergens when you or loved ones are away from home: Dining out: Talk to everyone and ask a lot of questions.

Donna Brazile takes on food stamp critics

A man waits to apply for food stamps in Florida. Donna Brazile says many people have misconceptions about food stamps.

Also, of course, welfare is not the same as food stamps. As for food stamps, more than 72% of all SNAP beneficiaries are families with children. Most of the recipients are children (48%), the elderly (8%) and the disabled. Less than 10% of food stamp recipients receive welfare payments. “John in WNY” wrote, “Yes, many do work, but many of them make sure they never make enough to lose their benefits …” Again, the facts refute the assumption. SNAP has strict time limits for unemployed workers: Able-bodied adults without children can only get three months worth of food stamps in a three-year period , unless working in a qualifying job training program. And how much are the benefits, anyway? The average monthly SNAP benefit per person is $133.85, or less than $1.50 per person per meal. Those benefits are low, and for many families, SNAP benefits don’t last the whole month. Why do we need to support the food stamp program? Because low-income families experience unemployment at a far higher rate than other income groups.

drive thru

(Photo: Photodisc/ Getty Images) Fast-food drive-thrus are getting slower and slower Too many complicated products are slowing things down Also, chains are trying to keep orders more accurate SHARE 522 CONNECT 150 TWEET 19 COMMENTEMAILMORE As if the fast-food industry doesn’t have enough headaches, now it’s got a new one: It’s getting too slow. Never mind that its first name is “fast.” The amount of time that consumers are spending waiting in lines at fast-food drive-thru windows is getting longer, not shorter, mostly due to the growing complexity of new products that the major fast-food chains are selling. This, according to 2013 Drive-Thru Performance Study conducted for QSR Magazine, a fast-food industry trade publication. The study, to be released today, also says that industry giant McDonald’s posted its slowest-ever drive-thru time in the 15-year history of the drive-thru study requiring an average 189.5 seconds for the typical drive-thru customer to go from order to pickup. That’s roughly nine seconds longer than the industry average, reports the study conducted this summer by Insula Research. The importance of the drive-thru business to the $299 billion fast-food industry cannot be overstated. Many major chains do 60% to 70% of their business at the drive-thru. That’s even nudged so-called fast-casual chains like Panera to move into the drive-thru arena and increase the number of drive-thrus it opens. The industry issue that’s slowing down service: menu bloat. Fast food’s ongoing market-share battle is forcing big chains to roll out more premium and more complex products more often. “The operational pressures to assemble those items are slowing down the drive-thru,” says Sam Oches, editor of QSR. For example, Taco Bell told QSR that its Cantina Bell bowls sometimes have up to 12 ingredients which are much more complex to assemble than, say, a Doritos Locos Taco. There’s another factor at work, too: accuracy.

Assets tests are a type of test designed to see if the family has means to survive without aid. (Hence the term in social insurance, means-testing.) According to the CBO , for the purpose of that test, assets include cash, amounts in bank accounts, and other types of financial resources, but they exclude the value of houses, retirement or education savings accounts, and (in most states) cars. Normally, if you have more than $2,000 in assets, you do not qualify for SNAP. In the past 10 years however, 41 states have opted to go with categorical eligibility in order to circumvent this test, either eliminating assets tests or raising them much higher. You can see a map of the evolution of this trend here . Its worth noting that the GOPs aggressive implementation of these asset tests pushes against major trends in social policy, and theres at least five major problems with this approach from the policy point of view. 1. Poverty traps Chart by CBO . One thing policymakers are concerned about when it comes to creating social insurance is whether or not it creates bad incentives for those in the program. Having an assets test at such a low level forces people into situations where they might have to spend money they wouldnt otherwise spend, and defer savings, in order to continue to qualify for using food stamps to fight poverty and food insecurity. These problems are usually described as poverty traps. Understanding them, and working to fix or blunt them, has been a major piece of policymaking for decades. Having savings is essential for any kind of real income security, as well as doing things like moving in order to take advantage of a new job.

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