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Seattle Coffee Chain's Letter To Employees Draws Critics

Patch logo Patch 10/3/2019 Lucas Combos
a close up of a coffee cup © Provided by Planck, LLC, d/b/a Patch Media

SEATTLE, WA — Seattle's Caffe Vita is facing widespread blowback after a letter surfaced on social media appearing to show management threatening to fire employees caught giving away food and drinks to the homeless. In a passage that has drawn considerable ire, the letter goes on to criticize the practice of giving free food to the homeless overall.

"Although these were well placed intentions, please understand, it is our belief, that feeding homeless people without comprehensive services actually enables, increases and promotes homelessness," the letter reads in part.

In replies on Twitter, some said firings had already happened and that the handouts were often leftovers that would have been thrown out anyway. The Capitol Hill Seattle Blog reports at least two employees were fired at the company's flagship store on East Pike Street before five others quit in solidarity. One of Vita's owners told the blog the letter was genuine, but would not elaborate on the firings. The Capitol Hill store also drew protests on Wednesday night.

Professor Sara Rankin, head of Seattle's Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, praised the employees' actions and told The Stranger the idea that feeding people for free encourages them to remain unsheltered does not align with reality.

Caffe Vita has not responded to a Patch request for comment.

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