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Starbucks food recovery program passes 20m meals

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Program packages eligible unsold food every evening and delivers meals to nonprofits.

Each year, 72 billion lb. of food go to waste, while one in nine Americans struggle with hunger, including approximately 11 million children and 5 million senior citizens. In 2016, Starbucks partnered with Feeding America to launch its FoodShare program. Near the end of last year, the program had donated more than 20 million meals.

The program packages eligible unsold food every evening and delivers the meals to nonprofits around the U.S. People line up every morning for sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, salads, yogurt, fruit and pastries.

Starbucks has set a goal to rescue 100% of the unsold food available from its more than 8,000 U.S. company-owned stores by the end of 2020. Currently, around 60% of stores participate, said Laura Olson, director of global social impact for Starbucks.

Each of the meals donated represents a person who didn’t go hungry that day, Olson said.

“Knowing that our surplus food that would otherwise go into the garbage is feeding a family or child or veteran is incredibly satisfying, especially knowing that our partners across the country make it happen,” she said.

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, chief executive officer of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization, said, “We, as a country, have a perception of our prosperity that doesn’t make room for the reality of the struggle that many of our neighbors have.”

Feeding America, a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 pantries, meal programs and soup kitchens, partners with Starbucks to connect FoodShare donations with local food banks and people who need them. Two million people volunteer with the nonprofit.

“There is not one county or parish in this country that does not have food insecurity inside of it,” she said.          

Last year, the Feeding America network and its partners rescued 3.6 billion lb. of food. Through its platform MealConnect, an innovative technology platform that makes food donation as simple as a click, Feeding America has recovered nearly 1.9 billion lb. Local grocery stores, restaurants, hotels and more can use MealConnect to alert nearby food banks, food pantries or meal programs when they have food ready for immediate pickup, making more good food available and revolutionizing local food rescue.

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