Economy

Starbucks Just Unveiled Its Plan to Combat Hunger

Ever wondered what happens to all of the perishable food that customers didn't buy at your local Starbucks? In the past, due to food safety policies, the answer was 'right into the dumpster.' But now the coffee empire is rolling out a plan to donate all its leftovers to local food banks by 2017, in an effort to combat hunger in the U.S.

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As part of a new program called FoodShare, Starbucks will begin to donate ready-to-eat meals from its 7,600 retail locations to food banks for individuals and families in need, the company announced on Tuesday. It will work in collaboration with charitable organizations and non-profits such as Food Donation Connection and Feeding America.

Within its first year, Starbucks expects to "provide nearly 5 million meals to individuals and families in need of nourishing food," and the program is set to expand rapidly over the next five years. By 2021, the company hopes to donate 50 million meals, salvaged from participating locations.

"Like many of our social impact initiatives, the innovation and inspiration comes from our partners who are volunteering in and contributing to their communities," John Kelly, the senior vice president of Starbucks Global Responsibility, Community and Public Policy, said in a statement. "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."

Where the idea for the food donation program came from.

The company's executives decided to act on the recommendations of employees such as Teva Sakima, a shift supervisor at one of Starbucks' retail locations, who raised attention to the issue of hunger in America. Sakima recalled the struggle her family faced to supply their children with nutritious meals and emphasized to her bosses that "[n]obody should go to bed hungry."

Over 48 million Americans lived in households with inadequate access to nutritious food in 2014 — including 15 million children — according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hunger and health are strongly related, as children who lack proper nutrition are at increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes.

"On any given week, five million people show up at food banks seeking help feeding their families, and this new partnership represents a tremendous opportunity to help" Feeding America media director Ross Fraser told ATTN:. The donations from Starbucks is a "win, win, win" situation that will do more than just help provide for families in need, Fraser said. 

The partnership will also help to reduce food waste in landfills, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions such as methane, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. As ATTN: previously reported, unconsumed food accounts for an estimated 133 billion pounds in waste that ends up in landfills each year.

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