In a program that launches Thursday, Starbucks will begin donating unsold food—everything from paninis to baked goods—to Washington residents in need.
Starbucks will partner with Food Lifeline to begin distributing its unsold food to Western Washington food shelters and meal plans. Food Lifeline affiliates in Eastern Washington will begin distribution of Starbucks’ food by next year, says Mark Coleman, director of marketing and communications at Food Lifeline.
The Washington program follows the successful 2015 pilot in San Diego where the company’s FoodShare division organized donations of unsold food to local food banks.
Starbucks foray into donating its unsold food came after its decision to prioritize food sales earned a rebuke from its employees who were already concerned with the daily waste of unsold food.
In response, Starbucks approached Seattle-based Food Lifeline who introduced them to its national affiliate, Feeding America, which helped Starbucks put together the pilot program in San Diego.
Now the donation program is coming home, and Coleman says his organization “couldn’t be happier.” Food Lifeline expects to rescue 2.2 million pounds of food a year as a result of the program. An amount Coleman says is equivalent to 1.8 million meals a year.
“We took our first delivery in Whatcom County, took four pallets and they were gone in 20 minutes. It’s very healthy food; they had kale salads, and our clients just loved it,” said Coleman.
“This is going to make a huge difference,” he added.