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There are staggering estimates out there about how much perfectly edible food gets wasted in America due to arbitrary sell-by dates and pointless standards that dictate what can be sold based on how it looks, not on its safety, taste or nutritional value. Dumpster diving documentary Dive! puts it at 96 billion pounds of food tossed in the trash yearly. The doc Just Eat It says that 40 percent of everything raised or grown goes uneaten. Meanwhile, something like 48 million Americans lived in food insecure households in 2014, the last year that data is available for.
That is why it is great to see Starbucks making a move that not only feels like common sense, but also needs to be an example for every business that throws away good food at the end of the night if it doesn't sell. The coffee giant on Wednesday announced FoodShare, a new program through which it pledges to donate 100 percent of its leftover food to those in need. All of the company's 7,600 U.S. stores will work with Feeding America and Food Donation Connection to get the ready-to-eat items to food banks. That's a whole lot of salads, wraps, breakfast sandwiches and protein boxes. Starbucks already had been donating all its uneaten pastries.
According to USA Today, the company says that it expects to provide 5 million meals to those in need by the end of this year, and something around 50 million annually by 2021, when it expects to be able to hit that 100 percent donation rate. Other restaurants that currently participate in programs to donate unused food include Olive Garden, which says it has donated more than 28 million meals over the past 13 years. Chipotle also donates food from all of its many locations.
Starbucks said the toughest part of enacting the new program was figuring out a way to transport the items safely so that they did not spoil and were safe to eat when they arrived at food banks. That's where Food Donation Connection comes in. The charity uses refrigerated vans to pick up and deliver the unused food to food banks in the Feeding America network.