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article imageStarbucks joins others in donating unsold food to the hungry

By Karen Graham     Mar 22, 2016 in Food
Starbucks announced on Tuesday that it will "aim to contribute 100 percent" of its leftover food to Feeding America from its over 7,000 U.S. locations by this time next year. The new program is being called "Food Share."
During an interview with CNN's Poppy Harlow, Founder and CEO Howard Schultz was quick to point out that the idea didn't come from Starbucks' corner office, it came from the baristas, the partners (employees) behind the counters.
"Our people just felt so badly. And this has been going on for quite some time. And so we started doing our homework-- municipality by municipality," Schultz said. Actually, Starbucks started using a pickup service to donate unsold pastries about six years ago. They found out that perishable items were a bit trickier to donate.
With perishable items, Starbucks didn't have a "consistent process to do so," Starbucks spokesperson Erin Schaeffer said. "The challenge was finding a way to add fresh or perishable food, like breakfast sandwiches and salads to the donation pick up while preserving the food's quality throughout the process," Schaeffer added.
According to the Starbucks news release, food safety practices required that baristas throw out any unsold salads and sandwiches and other refrigerated items after the written expiration date even if the food could still be consumed. So Starbucks invested in research and quality assurance testing to determine a way to safely donate their unsold perishable foods.
The Food Share program will initially be accomplished through a collaboration with Food Donation Connection and a new partnership with Feeding America. In the first year alone, Starbucks estimates that they will be able to provide at least five million meals to families and individuals in need of nourishing food.
The coffee company has an ambitious five-year plan to rescue 100 percent of its unsold food and make it available for donation from participating company-operated U.S. stores. That amounts to almost 50 million meals by 2021. Starbucks envisions the program growing to include other restaurants and companies, and even a refrigerated van going around to pick up donated foods.
With an effort like this, the U.S. may soon come close to feeding the estimated 48 million people, or about one in seven Americans that, at some point during the year, are unable or unsure of where to get their next meal. "I'm always trying to educate myself on the current social issues of our time," Schultz said. "And one of them is the fact that there are so many people in America that do not have the next meal to eat."
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