Hope and a banana loaf: the impact of Starbucks FoodShare

Stacy Nichols poses in front of a Starbucks flag.
April 20, 2023
by Paul Morello

“Lots of coffee.”

That’s how Stacy Nichols, the manager of a Starbucks store in California, describes her days. She supervises 26 staff at her store. She’s loving it. And coffee is – quite literally – her life right now. 

However, a few years ago, Stacy was in a much different place. But a little banana loaf, and a lot of inner strength helped change her life.

“When you’re in an abusive relationship, your whole life turns upside down,” she said.

In 2015, that’s what Stacy was facing. But that Christmas, she made a change.

“I decided to take the first step to reclaim my life and leave,” she said. “I packed up my stuff and went to a shelter. It was humbling for me, to admit I needed help.”

When she got there, Stacy had a place to stay and fresh meals every day.

“When I walked into the kitchen (at the shelter), there was a plate of Starbucks pastries. I sat there with my little banana loaf and said to myself, ‘Ok, everything’s going to be ok.’”

The shelter Stacy stayed at received food through the Starbucks FoodShare food donation program – a collaboration between Starbucks and the Feeding America network of food banks. Through the program, Starbucks donates unsold ready-to-eat meals from local stores such as breakfast sandwiches, protein boxes, pastries and more. This high-quality food would otherwise end up in a landfill.

“It’s the extra security of not having to worry about the next meal,” Stacy said. “You don’t feel less than. You still feel special. You’re not getting ‘leftovers.’ (The FoodShare donations) are the same items customers purchase every day.”

Stacy’s bravery and strength pushed her to leave her abuser for good. And, the stability and support from the shelter helped too.

“I’m 100 percent on my own,” she says proudly. “I stand here today and look back on how far I’ve come and it blows my mind. Things I thought I was never capable of doing, I’m doing.”

Now, Stacy has an opportunity to give a little back. Her Starbucks store is also part of the FoodShare program, donating unsold food to food pantries and other programs in her area. Because of the dedication of Stacy and her staff, they’re able to provide a little extra help – and maybe some banana loaf – to people facing hunger in her community. 

“I’m most excited about being able to give hope to people who are in that place where they feel like they’re stuck there,” she said. 

“You’re going to make mistakes, you won’t be perfect. But there are resources, there’s always someone out there who can help you get through the times when you’re unsure,” Stacy said. “I’m proud of sitting here today, pushing through, showing others they can too.”

Since 2016, Starbucks’ FoodShare program has provided more than 50 million meals to people like Stacy. Learn more about the program.