Starbucks is diminishing its role in the food industry’s nasty habit of excessive food waste. The coffee shop chain has announced plans to donate 100% of its leftover food to those in need through its new FoodShare program.
The company is working with the nonprofit Feeding America and food collection group Food Donation Connection on the initiative. Starbucks will be able to donate any perishable, ready-to-eat meals from its more than 7,600 U.S. stores to food banks.
“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,” Starbucks store manager Kienan McFadden said in an official statement from the company. “Rescuing food in this way from being thrown away will change lives.”
So how will it work? At the end of each day, Food Donation Connection and Feeding America will use refrigerated vans to pick up food from Starbucks locations. These perishables, which were in the past thrown away due to refrigeration-related health concerns, will be carted off to food banks and rescue agencies. The entire process should take no more than 24 hours to carry out from store to food pantry.
“When we thought about our vast store footprint across the U.S. and the impact we could make, it put a fire under us to figure out how to donate this food instead of throwing it away,” said Starbucks Food team brand manager, Jane Maly. “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.”
Currently, the U.S. produces an estimated 70 billion pounds of food waste each year while more than 48 million Americans—or 15% of households—live in food-insecure households, according to data collected by Feeding America.
The company’s senior vice president of Global Responsibility, Community and Public Policy, John Kelly, spoke about the larger human impact of the initiative’s partnership in Tuesday’s release.
“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 Kelly. “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.”