Almost two dozen Wichitans gathered in the cold Thursday to protest low wages for fast food workers.
First, the group entered the McDonald's at 17th and Hillside around 11:30 AM and greeted the bewildered staff behind the service counter. The group thanked them for their hard work and explained they were there to support them.
A local pastor named David Hansen lead a prayer, asking God for positive change in the fast food industry.
“We stand in solidarity with them, and with all who believe that a minimum wage should lift people out of poverty, not trap them in poverty."
“Strengthen our hearts, O God," he continued, "until we see that day come around.”
After the prayer, the McDonalds employees thanked them for coming by, and the demonstrators wished them all Merry Christmas.
The group then went onto the sidewalk to chant and talk with passersby.
Bill Anderson took a break from chanting to say the price of fast food doesn't reflect the whole cost to taxpayers.
“A whole bunch of their people are on food stamps, can’t afford health care. McDonalds should be paying for that, not us! We’re subsidizing those creeps.”
Anderson admitted that he occasionally buys "the damn sausage biscuit thing," when he's in a hurry. "They're not good for you, but they're wonderful."
David Hanson said the group wants to raise awareness in the community about the need to raise minimum wage. Also, to let people know about the level of public assistance that goes to full-time workers in these jobs.
"We think the food is cheap that we get at McDonalds, but it’s because it’s subsidized by other programs. So it would be better to pay a full wage and cut the subsidies.”
Kansas Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau, who lives in the neighborhood, walked down to offer her support. Faust-Goudeau says the Department of Children and Family Services might not have so many people applying for food stamps if fast food workers were paid a living wage.
"Even though this is a cold, brittle day out here, I think it’s important because these people work hard, laboring jobs...for pennies! Most of them live under the poverty level, so I stopped by to show my support.”
According to the nation-wide campaign, Low Pay is Not OK, rallies in Lawrence, Kansas City, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City, were among the 100+ events planned across the country.
McDonalds has not commented on Thursday's protests and rallies.
The company "does not determine wages set by our more than 3,000 U.S. franchises," a company spokeswoman said recently.