Farewell To Free Lunches
They jokingly call it the Facebook 15. That’s the poundage Facebook employees supposedly gain as they inhale mountains of delicious free food offered on the social media company’s campuses.
If you figure that the average breakfast costs $10, the average lunch costs $20 and the average dinner costs $35 - that’s a low-ball estimate for places like California - free victuals can add up to a fat $15,600-a-year benefit.
Beyond that, the convenience of on-site dining is priceless.
All-you-can-eat gourmet buffets, prepared by corporate chefs, are just one of many goodies companies use to lure high-tech hot shots to their workplaces.
The prince of perks is Google. This from Business Insider:
“Google is one of the biggest tech companies in the world, and that shows in its well-reported perks. The famous Googleplex headquarters in Mountain View, California, offers seemingly endless free food options. Employees can eat every meal free at the campus restaurants and cafes—and save a ton of money.
“One staffer told Business Insider, ‘One of my favorites is the chocolate mousse in the La Place cafe. It’s served every day at lunch, and it’s absolutely heavenly. Sometimes I’ll stash away some mousse for a mid-afternoon ‘mousse break’ with co-workers.’ Google also has a gym with free workout classes, plus free cooking classes. And it happens to have incredibly generous death benefits, paying the spouse or partner of a deceased employee 50% of their salary for 10 years.”
MOUSSE breaks? Do you suppose Google is hiring unemployed journalists?
Free food may soon go the way of dial-up internet and floppy disks. In California, anyway. Several cities there - starting with Mountain View - are passing laws that forbid companies from subsidizing more than 50 percent of employee food.
(Google may be grandfathered in, unless it expands. Facebook, however, which is opening a 2,000-employee Mountain View location this fall, will be subject to the protectionist law.)
The reason? Local restaurateurs are griping that their businesses suffer when folks eat at work. They simply can’t compete with free.
Of course they can’t. So what?
Government shouldn’t be in the business of propping up failing restaurants. Or telling people where to eat. Or dictating to corporations how they can and can't reward their workers.
If eateries in Silicon Valley are unable to compete with company fare, then they need to do what restaurants do every day: Go out of business. Or move.
Employees who lose their free food benefit - thanks to meddling politicians - should stage a brown-bag protest.
It would make a point. And help them lose that Facebook 15.