Starbucks Foodshare: Donating Unsold Food to America’s Needy

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Starbucks food donation Foodshare

Along with the river of caffeinated beverages Starbucks generates every day, it also has a mountain of food getting cooked up in its kitchens, including new menu items such as chocolate marble loaf cake, apple fritters and southwest-style steak wrap.

All of that food if it goes uneaten may now find its way into the mouths of the American hungry, a number that is at around 50 million daily despite the US Dept. of Agriculture estimating that 30% to 40% of the nation’s food supply is wasted.

Cue Foodshare (tagline: Hunger Relief in Action), Starbucks’ new program to donate ready-to-eat meals to food banks from its 7,600 company-operated stores. Initially, the program will get rolling with a new partnership with Feeding America food banks and an extension of an agreement with Food Donation Connection to donate food items from all Starbucks locations from across the US, and look for more partners in the future.

Starbucks Foodshare

Customers may not realize that as part of its impressive corporate citizenship commitment, Starbucks had been donating food for a number of years before this but now it’s able to redistribute all the edible leftovers that Starbucks doesn’t sell by the end of the business day. “Our people just felt so badly,” CEO Howard Schultz told CNN. “And this has been going on for quite some time. And so we started doing our homework — municipality by municipality.”

How it will work: A refrigerated truck will make the rounds to Starbucks stores in a municipal zone to pick up unsold (and still edible) food and take it to a central distribution point. The goal is that in the first year it will serve up around five million meals, an astonishing number that is credit to Starbucks shift supervisor Teva Sakima, who came up with initial idea for the partnership and pitched it to her bosses.

Sakima spent some of her early days hungry and she doesn’t want others to suffer: “Those feelings are hard to forget,” she said. “Nobody should go to bed hungry. It’s not okay.” The meals-served number expects to jump to almost 50 million meals by 2021.

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