In his unforgettable, yet disturbing truths in fast food Nation, Eric Scholosser explicitly illustrates the damaging effects that the Fast food industry has on our society. According to Scholosser, during a visit to Colorado Springs, the fast food joints have forever altered the majestic beauty of the land into a “whole new world” (60).
It’s a world where the Fast Food industry is exploiting school-aged workers. The youth of the community are being negatively effected by the industries actions by being given difficult and long shifts, high school students that work in the fast food industry have a higher dropout rate, and work in unsafe and often illegal working environments.
Scholosser goes on to include that the fast food industry has the largest average of adolescents’ workers of any industry in America and 2/3 are under the age of twenty (68).
He introduces Elsa Zamot, a sixteen year old high school student, who is trying to balance having a part time fast food job with being a student. On the weekends she is scheduled to work the morning shift which forces her to wake up at 5:30 in the morning and work a seven hour day. When she returns home she is exhausted and school work is the furthest thing from her mind. The fast food industry should not be relying, in such great extent on their young employees to cover such trying shifts. The harsh reality is that “teenagers have been the perfect candidates for those jobs, not only because they are less expensive to hire than an adult, but also because their youthful inexperience’s makes them easy to control.” (68)
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Near by, at Harrison High School in Colorado Springs, Jane Trogdon, head of the guidance department, is very worried about the wellbeing of her students. There are an “abundance of fast food workers” (79) at the school and many leave right after school, head right to work, and do not return home till way past their bed times. They come to school exhausted from their work shift the prior night and show up to class with their school work incomplete. (79) Trogdon’s concerns for her students are supported by the report on child labor, found in Protecting Youth at Work, which was published by the National Academy of Science in 1998. (80) It states that “the long hours many American teenagers now spend on the job pose a great risk to their future education and financial success”(80), thus the reason for such a staggering increase in high school drop outs at Harrison High school.
In addition to the long hours that students experience, they are faced with many potential dangers at the work place. Many workers under the age of eighteen are allowed, and encouraged to use hazardous machinery that is strictly prohibited by the Colorado State Law. Scholosser goes on to note another potential danger and states a bone chilling statistic that “roughly four or five fast food workers are now murdered on the job every month, usually during the course of a robbery.” (83) The saddest part of this statistic is that most of the robbers are current or former, disgruntled, employees that are acting out on the treatment they have had to undertake from their managers.
Security measures are being implemented to cut down on these crimes but the restaurants are still vulnerable thus putting the young workers in harm’s way. To summarize, the Fast Food industry has forever altered our lives, and are preying on the youth of America. The young workers are being scheduled to work long hours, dropping out of school due to the pressures of their jobs, and are forced to work under illegal working conditions. The adolescents of today, have enough struggles to deal with in life, they shouldn’t be taken advantage of by the Fast Food Industry. We need to protect the youth of our future.
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Scholosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation. New York: Harper, 2002.