Fast food employees choose convenience over nutrition

Della Johnson | Staff Writer

Fast food restaurants are not just convenient for the customers.

Food industry jobs have been the main career choice of students for many years. For most establishments, hiring starts at age 14, and many of them provide free meals or discounts. According to the Ohio Medical Group, this food tends to cause more harm than good. The average fast food meal can equal a full day’s worth of food (2000 calories). 

Senior Taylor Ramsey has worked at Chipotle for almost a year now. Though on the healthier end of fast food, with numerous vegetable and protein options, meals there can still be high in calories. Ramsey said she eats there quite often due to daily free employee meals.

For fast food employees Connor Telford, Taylor Ramsey, and Amanda Follmer, it is easy and cheap to eat food from work. These foods, however, do not offer many health benefits.

“I probably eat there too much,” Ramsey said. “I’m really cheap and I always will eat that instead of going home and making my own dinner. I do that around six or five times a week. Before I worked there, I only ate there once every two months.”

A team trainer at fast-food chain Culver’s, Junior Connor Telford has been working there for two years. He said eating there during the day is easier and allows him to get food quickly instead of making it.

“It’s convenient,” Telford said. “I’m already there. Sometimes if I don’t have a snack after school, I’ll stop before I have to clock in and get something.”

For some, the career choice makes no difference in how often they eat there. Telford said he would eat the same amount of fast food whether he worked in the industry or not.

“I’ve been eating there since I was a little kid,” Telford said. “It’s one of the reasons I started working there. I’m not eating there any more than I probably would be eating at any other fast food place, even if I didn’t work in a fast food restaurant.”

Sophomore Cooper Schanne works at popular fast-food chain Wendy’s. He said working there has changed his diet a lot.

“I eat there maybe two, three times a week,” Schanne said. “(Working there) definitely impacted my diet. I would say that I probably eat a lot more fast food and not as much healthy stuff as I used to.”

Employee discounts are often utilized by employers to entice workers. Telford uses them, but he doesn’t simply eat there because of them.

It’s supposed to just be for employees,” Telford said. “But our family can get fifteen percent off. So when my family eats there, I always throw in the discount, but we never go there just because of my discount.”

Though many food workers choose to avoid certain foods after seeing how they are made,    Telford said eating the food at his workplace helps him to recommend food to customers from personal experience.

“I like to try and sample almost every on the menu,” Telford said. “I want to be able to say I’ve tried everything. That way, I can recommend stuff to guests and tell them exactly how something tastes.”

Junior Amanda Follmer, also a worker at Culver’s, eats fast food regularly, but often it is not where she works. 

“I actually ended up having to cut out fast food for Lent,” Follmer said. “I’ve been eating so much fast food. Just other places, though. I actually haven’t had Culver’s in a while.”

Follmer also said that, since she doesn’t eat at her job very often, she never gets sick of it, unlike others.

“I don’t eat there that often,” Follmer said. “So I don’t get sick of it. I know some people that do eat there a lot. They definitely get sick of it after a while.”

Another concern of workers is keeping their health up. Telford said he makes sure to still have balanced meals and exercise regularly.

“I run cross country,” Telford said. “So I have to eat at least a little bit healthy. My mom is kind of strict about that. I have to have a fruit and vegetable with every meal. (Working in fast food) hasn’t really affected my lifestyle that much because I still exercise a decent amount, and I still eat other healthier foods when I have to or when given the option.”

Graphic by Riley Johansen.