The array of Starbucks sandwiches and salads that aren't purchased at the end of the day usually end up in the garbage bin with the rest of the trash, but the Seattle-based coffee company says it's found a way to stop wasting and start giving.
On Tuesday, Starbucks announced the launch of FoodShare, a program that will begin donating its ready-to-eat meals from its 7,600 company-operated U.S. stores to food banks. The food being donated to the needy includes refrigerated items, like protein boxes, adding to the pastries it's been donating since 2010.
“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,” said Kienan McFadden, a Starbucks store manager, in a statement.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that in 2014, about 48 million people, including just under 8 million children, lived in homes that weren't able to access, or had uncertain access, to enough food to meet their needs.
Food safety regulations mandate that stores discard refrigerated items after the expiration date on the packaging. Starbucks worked with its partner, Food Donation Connection, to develop a way to add perishable food to the pick-up, which will be implemented in participating U.S. company stores by this time next year.
"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," said Jane Maly, brand manager of the Starbucks Food team.
Under the FoodShare plan, each day a refrigerated van will pick up food from Starbucks stores and deliver it to the Feeding America network. The company projects that the plan will provide nearly 5 million meals to needy families in its first year alone. FoodShare is expected to be in place by the end of next March.
Starbucks has been able to donate its pastry items through the Food Donation Connection since 2010.
FoodShare was developed in collaboration with Food Donation Connection and Feeding America, which Starbucks said is the largest domestic hunger-relief and food-rescue nonprofit in the U.S.