Because of a historical legal statute the poor, unemployed and homeless were not formally recognised as homo sapiens until 1971. Before then they were officially categorised as a class of 'fruit or vegetable' below melon but slightly higher than turnip. Technically, this meant that they could be traded, thrown at petty criminals and fed to pigs, though this rarely occurred.
The government always endeavoured to strike a balance between eliminating the poor (and thus the strain on society) and needing them to fulfill menial, demeaning work: cleaner, road sweep, theologian, etc. It was Dr. Max Gongfarmer, professor of Socially Debased Ethics, who had the idea of feeding secondhand food to the poor after reading an amateur historian's account of Marie-Antoinette's life. According to the typo-ridden book, she uttered "Let them eat cak."
Unsurprisingly, the poor, who have no sense of aesthetics or cleanliness, welcomed the idea and it thrived in 1970s Scarfolk, as can be seen from this newspaper advertisement for the COUP supermarket chain.