Food Service Direct, the online source for access to quality food and supplies in bulk, recently conducted a nationwide study that found Montana to be the third worst state in the U.S. to be a food service worker.

KGVO News spoke with Brand Service Director Amrisa Naranjan who detailed some of the reasons why Montana fared so poorly in their study.

“One of the things that came back included hourly earnings which was a fairly lower than average rank in Montana if you are in food service,” said Naranjan. “In addition,  childcare support was ranked significantly lower than the national average along with tipping satisfaction. Put all three of those together and they are basically the factors that possibly brought the overall score down the most.”

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Naranjan explained the extremely low score when it came to tipping food service workers.

“Tipping satisfaction, for example, doesn't mean that people don't want to be generous,” she said. “Sometimes it comes down to the median income of the average person in the state. Is it possible to be as generous as you would like? So I think it's important to make sure that we think about that when we think about the data, because it isn't that people aren't necessarily excited to be generous in Montana to food service workers. It might just come down to whether it is feasible for everyone based on what wages are in the state.”

Naranjan compared food service workers to those in healthcare as to the possible COVID infection risks taken due to close personal contact with the public.

“Here’s the question,” she said. “Is the risk or the value of this not equivalent to what the worker or the person behind the counter and what they are being compensated worth it? And in the case of food service that included high exposure and low pay. So you can imagine how that particular industry must have felt as well, because they are also interacting with so many different people all day, taking on a lot of risk.”

Naranjan said when all is said and done, the pandemic will force the best actors in the food service industry to rise to the top.

“If there's a group or an industry that has a will and finds a way, it's typically the food service industry,” she said. “We've seen really awesome adaptive approaches to business during the pandemic, and this natural shift I think is going to let us see who the superstars of business are when it comes to food. So there may be fewer (food service businesses) down the road, but I would bet however fewer there are, then, they are going to be really good quality and really well run.”

The study states that the five best states to work in hospitality are North Carolina, New Jersey, Kentucky, California and South Carolina, while the five worst states were New Mexico, Rhode Island, Montana, West Virginia and Connecticut.

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