On Tuesday, coffeehouse giant Starbucks pledged that it will donate all stores' surplus food to the hungry through a new program called FoodShare. The program will donate Starbucks ready-to-eat meals in the form of sandwiches and bistro boxes to food banks from all 7,600 stores located in the United States.
In the U.S., it is estimated that there are nearly 50 million people who are hungry with 15 million of them being children. The goal of donating all unsold edible items to food banks by 2021 will be accomplished though Starbucks' existing relationship with Food Donation Connection and a new partnership with Feeding America. With help from the old and new partners, all perishable food, which also includes breakfast sandwiches, salads and paninis, will be picked up from Starbucks locations at the end of each day and will be taken and donated.
Starbucks said that with the new program, the Seattle-based company will help to feed nearly 5 million meals to people who are in need of food.
"Like many of our social impact initiatives, the innovation and inspiration comes from our partners who are volunteering in and contributing to their communities," said John Kelly, senior vice president of Starbucks Global Responsibility, Community and Public Policy. "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."
Feeding America is the biggest domestic hunger-relief and food-rescue nonprofit in the U.S. and has been partnered with Starbucks since 2010. The nonprofit redistributes unused food through a refrigerated van, which picks up the food and delivers it to the Feed America network. In the past, Starbucks did not donate the perishable goods for logistics reasons, but thanks to the refrigerated van system which allows the food to be safely monitored, donation is now possible.
"This food is going to make a difference, whether it's a child not going hungry for the night or a family that's able to enjoy a protein plate that they would not have otherwise been able to afford at Starbucks," said Kienan McFadden, a Starbucks store manager. "Rescuing food in this way from being thrown away will change lives. It makes me proud to know partners are the heroes in this."
Starbucks intends to roll out this process over the next five years until all locations across the country are donating 100 percent of perishable food.