Starbucks will now donate 100% of their leftover food to food banks.
Though Starbucks has been working with Food Donation Connection since 2010 to donate all of their leftover pastries, the corporate coffee shop has now found a way to safely donate ALL of their unsold food, particularly perishables, to food banks around the country.
Starbucks has partnered up with Food Donation Connection and Feeding America, two networks dedicated to solving the nation’s hunger problem, in a program they have named Foodshare to successfully deliver the unsold food from 7,600 locations in the U.S. to local food banks. The idea came from baristas who had either experienced poverty and hunger sometime in their life or saw the need to give more to the community instead of throwing away their food.
It may seem like donating leftover food is an easy task, but food safety policies require that perishable food items like salads and sandwiches sold at the stores be thrown away on the designated expiration date, even though the food is often still perfectly edible. Starbucks has been investing time and money into researching safe ways to donate the food that are within the law, which includes quality assurance testing, ever since the idea came to them.
Jane Maly, the Brand Manager for the Starbucks Food Team, said, “The challenge was finding a way to preserve the food’s quality during delivery. We focused on maintaining the temperature, texture and flavor of the surplus food, so when it reached a person in need, they could safely enjoy it.”
Senior Vice President John Kelly of Starbucks Global Responsibility, Community, and Public Policy confirmed that, “Like many of our social impact initiatives, the innovation and inspiration comes from our partners who are volunteering in and contributing to their communities. They saw the need for us to do more, and find a way to use our scale to bring more nourishing and ready-to-eat meals to those in need.”
Teva Sakima, a shift supervisor at a Starbucks location, remembers having family meals as a child that were very small and recalls the stress her parents experienced when struggling to put food on the table.“Those feelings are hard to forget,” she said. “Nobody should go to bed hungry. It’s not okay.” Sakima was one of many employees who decided she wanted to help the hungry by donating surplus food from Starbucks. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 50 million Americans struggle to avoid hunger today, and 15 million of those Americans are children.
Starbucks estimates that by donating 100% of their leftover food from the 7,600 participating locations, they can donate nearly 5 million meals to banks nationwide by the end of FoodShare’s first year. The new program could potentially expand by finding a way for the refrigerated vans to pick up food from other locations that currently aren’t participating for various reasons. This could expand the program exponentially, and possibly even inspire other food and restaurant chains to find a way to partner with great charities like Feeding America and Food Donation Connection to donate their leftover food.
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