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California City Takes a Stand Against Facebook's Free Food

New office can't fully subsidize internal meals
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2018 9:20 AM CDT
An employee walks past a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
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(Newser) – There will be no free ice cream for the 2,000 employees set to fill Facebook's new office in Mountain View, Calif., later this year. Like many other tech companies in Silicon Valley, Facebook fills the bellies of its employees with free food, from oven-baked pizza to hand-rolled sushi. But that appears to be changing: In an effort to lend support to local restaurants, the city of Mountain View has blocked Facebook from subsidizing cafeteria meals by more than 50%, though it can fully subsidize meals had at outside restaurants. "We wanted to make sure businesses that were there were successful," councilman John McAlister tells the San Francisco Chronicle of the 2014 agreement, which he says came in response to complaints that Google's free employee meals were hurting local businesses.

The goal was "to make sure we didn't have 400,000 square feet of office space with people that never left the building" to visit a local business, says former Mountain View mayor Michael Kasperzak. It's an idea that caught officials' attention in San Francisco. Though it "could mean losing well-paid [cafeteria] jobs to minimum-wage jobs in nearby restaurants," per the Guardian, two city legislators on Tuesday announced a proposal that would ban workplace cafeterias in new developments. "You get more foot traffic, restaurant and retail patrons, and overall vitality in the streets," says a rep for the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, which is in support of the proposal. "If people are bussed in, go to work and never leave the building, the effect isn't felt." (Read more Facebook stories.)

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