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Monday, July 30, 2018

No Free Lunch?

Everybody likes a free lunch. Our company has quarterly staff meetings where lunch is served. We have other meetings where a meal is involved and paid for by the company. Nice deal when we can get it.

Some companies have corporate lunch rooms. While interviewing for employment with a well known private bank several years ago, I had lunch twice in the executive dining room many floors up. And I’ve had the pleasure of a few meals in the company cafeteria at Apple offices at One Infinite Loop. They have quite a set up. Employees pay, but it’s certainly reasonable.

The best of all company perks is the free lunch often found in Silicon Valley. Several firms offer their employees meals as a perk. Facebook is one such company. Three meals a day, five days a week, for free. Google, among others, offers a similar benefit.

Things in California may be about to change. USA Today recently reported that two San Francisco city supervisors have introduced legislation that would ban installation of “non-retail cafeterias in office buildings.” Why do such a thing?

Local eateries around the area provide the answer. Take Anthony Myint’s sophisticated eatery, The Perennial. It’s located relatively close to the headquarters of Twitter and Uber south of San Francisco’s bustling financial district. Knowing that many young, well-paid professionals live in the area, this seemed like an ideal spot to do business.

But both Twitter and Uber offer free meals to their employees. And Myint’s restaurant has had a difficult time making it. He’s frustrated, saying, “Around eight restaurants within two blocks of here, some with Michelin-rated chefs, have all closed, and we’re struggling to make ends meet.” He’d like a fix.

The new city measure would not prevent future startups from setting up in-house kitchens. BUT these businesses would have to charge employees for meals. This policy, government officials believe, would likely encourage employees to do more business with restaurants in the area. Maybe.

I don’t like this idea. New restaurants have a high failure rate anyway. It isn’t the government's job to figure out how to keep them open.

And speaking of policies about company-run cafeterias, here’s another one I read about that got my goat. WeWork is a startup that rents out co-working and office space. The have 6,000 employees worldwide. Recently, a company memo informed all team members that it won’t pay for meals that include red meat, poultry, or pork. Supposedly, this makes them more “environmentally friendly.”

This policy also makes them appear stupid. It’s one thing to have good, strong corporate core values. It’s another thing to tell your people what they can and cannot eat. What’s next? Do all employees have to use Tom’s environmentally friendly deodorant? Or require special shoes where you buy one pair, and a second goes to a “needy person?”

Limiting food choices does have biblical history, of course. Jewish people know the rules of kosher very well. Many still practice it today.

Jesus of Nazareth knew those rules, too. And likely abided by them. Then, however, He gave us a vital spiritual truth, saying, “It's not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” (Matthew 15:11, NLT)

Then with His disciples, He expanded on this, saying, “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” (Matthew 11:17-20, NIV)

No city supervisor or corporate policy can fix that problem. Spiritual changes require a new heart. Only God can make that happen.

And He reminds us of His power to do this in a meal He offers freely…of bread and wine. Take. And eat.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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