Thursday 18 January 2018

Supermarket sparks outrage with sign allegedly telling customers not to give money to homeless people

The Whole Foods store in Stoke Newington
The Whole Foods store in Stoke Newington

May Bulman

Whole Foods has sparked outrage after allegedly putting up a sign asking customers not to give money or food to homeless people outside a store in London.

The organic food store reportedly placed the signs on tills inside the shop in Stoke Newington stating: “Giving money or food to people outside our store is encouraging theft, aggressive behaviour and substance abuse.”

They went on to urge that customers consider supporting charities in the area before handing over any money to “anyone outside the store”.

Whole Foods has since removed the signs after the move was branded “unacceptable” by members of the public.

One woman was so angered by the sign after seeing it that she confronted the store’s staff and posted a photo of the sign on Facebook, prompting furious reaction from some members of the public.

“I understand there’s a problem but it’s pretty offensive, and it’s not true. I said: ‘At least give details of a few local charities for people to contact,’” the woman told the Hackney Gazette.

“He [the manager] accepted my concerns. I fully accept they don’t want staff to be abused and they need to take action, but the way it comes across is absolutely shocking.

“You can’t just say it encourages these things, it’s not cause and effect. It’s outrageous.”

The anger also spread to Twitter, where one user, named only as Emma, wrote: “How can Whole Foods be telling people who they can and cannot give their money to please? Unacceptable, take this down and feed the homeless.”

She then went on to say she knows of a homeless woman who sits outside the Stoke Newington Whole Foods store who is “sober” and was “run over and severely disfigured”, subsequently losing her job and becoming homeless.

Another Twitter user said it was not “wholesome” behaviour, adding: “How can you support fairtrade, ethical produce yet abuse the homeless?!”

A spokesman for Whole Foods, which was recently bought out by Amazon in a $13.7bn deal, told the Evening Standard the signs had been removed following complaints from customers.

The Independent has contacted Whole Foods for comment.

Homeless charity Thames Reach advises not giving money to beggars but says: “By all means, engage with people on the street. Perhaps buy them food or a cup of tea.”

Independent News Service

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