Starbucks Employees Tackle Food Waste, Feed Hungry With Foodshare Program

Employees have always been a central aspect of Starbucks’ CSR efforts, whether that’s helping baristas get a college education or facilitating conversations in stores around issues like race. Now, employees have stepped forward to provide feedback on the company’s own operations, telling the coffee giant it’s time to holistically address food waste – and Starbucks listened.

Food waste is a major issue within the sustainability world. In the U.S. alone, 70 billion pounds of food are wasted each year, while one in seven people struggles with hunger. This juxtaposition was all too real for Starbucks employees, who would have to throw out pounds of unsold perishable food items day after day. At the urging of its employees, Starbucks began an in-depth process to explore a safe method to add perishable foods to its existing pastry donation program. Now, Starbucks has announced FoodShare, a program that will allow the company to donate “ready-to-eat meals to food banks from its 7,600 company-owned stores in the U.S.” The new process utilizes refrigerated trucks to make sure food maintains safe temperatures as it travels from Starbucks stores to food banks. The program, facilitated through partnerships with Food Donation Connection and Feeding America, will provide 5 million meals within the first year, with a five year goal to “rescue 100 percent of its food available for donation.” According to Starbucks, that will amount to nearly 50 million meals by 2021.

Employees can be a strong force for change within an organization. On the front lines of a company’s operations, employees can oftentimes spot areas for CSR innovation or improvement and can act as powerful advocates when it comes to sharing a company’s social or environmental commitments with consumers. In the case of Starbucks, by listening to employees, the company has not only taken a leadership stance on food waste but also engaged them on an issue that is near and dear to their hearts, creating a sense of ownership, pride and reason for celebration.

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