When at their best, a Starbucks location can be a hub in the community, a center of activity and connection, conversation and coffee. As a long term resident of San Diego and a five-year partner (employee) working in our Point Loma, CA store, I also know there are a lot of people in our community who may not know where their next meal is coming from, which made it difficult to tolerate throwing away unsold food at the end of each day, that was still good and safe to consume. A key part of Starbucks’ mission is to “act with courage, challenge the status quo and find new ways to grow our company and each other,” so it is no surprise that many other partners – just like me, across the globe, hated seeing this food go to waste and challenged our leaders to come up with a less wasteful solution. I am proud to share our voices were heard and helped inspire Starbucks to design the Starbucks FoodShare program. Now, when shutting our store down for the day and locking the doors, we know the unsold food will be put to good use. When customers inquire about what happens to unsold food at Starbucks, I can answer passionately that we are empowered to give back in our local communities, providing meals to people who are hungry.
Once inspired to make this change, Starbucks approached Feeding America with this challenge and asked for help. With a national reach of 200 food banks and 60,000 food agencies across the country, Starbucks knew Feeding America was best suited to help our more than 7,600 Starbucks locations safely donate surplus food. Together, Feeding America and Starbucks designed an innovative model, sending a dedicated driver to pick up food nightly, and redeploying unsold food to help solve hunger in local communities.
The ability to donate our fresh, nourishing food as well as pastries in a safe and easy way to families in need feels like a privilege and responsibility. I know that the 50 million meals we will donate annually (when the program reaches national capacity in three years) will make a real difference in the mission to end hunger for the 1 in 8 Americans who do not know where their next meal will come from. I am incredibly proud to have a hand in this change. With the amount of food wasted in this country every day, nobody should be left hungry. It is truly inspiring knowing Starbucks partners were able to join with Feeding America in their mission to end hunger.
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