Sammy Nickalls
Updated Mar 23, 2016 @ 7:05 am
Credit: Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

It’s a grim fact, but it’s one we can’t ignore: According to Feeding America, one in six Americans live in households that struggle to put food on the table. That’s exactly why we’re so, so happy about the latest Starbucks initiative to donate their unsold food to people in need.

On Tuesday, the coffee giant announced that the 7,600 stores in the United States will donate “ready-to-eat meals” to food banks in its latest program, entitled FoodShare. Starbucks will be working in partnership with Food Donation Collection (FDC) and Feeding America to combat food waste. The company estimates that they will be able to give nearly 5 million meals to those in need; it hopes to increase that number to 50 million by 2021.

“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 John Kelly, 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.”

Starbucks has already been donating pastries in partnership with the FDC since 2010, but this new initiative will include their other food offerings. “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,” Jane Maly, brand manager of Starbucks Food team, said in a statement. “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.”

Through its new partnership with Feeding America, Starbucks hopes to change the lives of millions of people. “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 the statement. “Rescuing food in this way from being thrown away will change lives. It makes me proud to know partners are the heroes in this.”