I worked in the supermarket as a kid and, it did seem par for the course.
Some places are quite mellow about sampling, and other times one manager or another can be pretty harsh. This is loss, or shrink as it was called, which includes things that aren’t sold, or spoil or have a damaged package. Bit unfair to do it and say, “Just this once…” then cause lots of loss.
Taking the efficiency guy at face value, I calculate USD $4.60 per day (assuming 50 week work year, and 5 day work week, YMMV.) I generally spent about 5 bucks for lunch, so, yeah, seems about right.
That’s awful lot of salted meat to eat with no bread or topping. But I’d seen worse – one day a worker ran into my produce backroom, he was ducking the supervisor, as he quickly made a Wonder bread and ketchup sandwich to wolf down. I was warming up to say, “Uh … don’t steal, don’t make me complicit, and what the hell man, steal something good, at least” when the supervisor came in.
“Hey, unload the delivery. Just … jus… take the sandwich, I don’t care, but unload the truck.”
Some working people don’t have money left over for food. Or time to cook after their commute. Some people may not have the space, in their place of residence. I knew a guy who slept on some families couch. He was allowed to keep soda in their fridge – but nothing else. No food was provided for him. He wasn’t allowed to cook there, all his eating was out. I don’t know what his bathroom privileges were like, but probably the minimum as well.