An important new project is brewing at Starbucks – picking up steam first in San Diego.
On Tuesday afternoon, the coffee giant announced the launch of the first-ever Starbucks “FoodShare” program, a project that will donate healthy, ready-to-eat meals to Feeding America food banks from company-operated Starbucks locations across the United States.
The FoodShare program is building on a successful pilot launch of the project in San Diego earlier this year. According to Starbucks, more than 190 of the company’s locations in San Diego will provide approximately 750,000 pounds of food to local Feeding America banks via FoodShare every year.
That’s the equivalent of 625,000 meals in San Diego County, annually.
The partnership was announced earlier this year, but now it is being put to practice. Eventually, Starbucks’ FoodShare program will operate across the nation.
"Starbucks has truly shown their commitment to hunger-relief," said Al Brislain, CEO of Feeding America San Diego, in a press release Tuesday. "With one in eight San Diegans facing hunger, FoodShare will make a huge difference for those we serve and exemplify what we can accomplish when we work together."
Through the program, Starbucks employees will “rescue” food that is still good at the end of their shifts, including Bistro Boxes, breakfast sandwiches, Paninis, salads, yogurts and baked goods. Instead of wasting the meals, they will be donated to food banks that will pass them along to San Diegans in need, including those living on the streets.
The company says FoodShare donations will be picked up in refrigerated vans from Starbucks stores seven days a week, year round. Drivers will check all items for food safety before delivering the meals to Feeding America San Diego or its distribution partners.
Brislain said Feeding America San Diego will be moving the food donations quickly, getting them to agencies daily so they can be eaten by locals in need.
Starbucks says the goal is to be able to provide nearly 5 million meals across the U.S. in the first year alone of FoodShare. Over the next five years, the company plans to be able to rescue 100 percent of its food available for donation nationwide.
"This is going to make a huge difference," Brislain told NBC 7 on Tuesday. "What started here in San Diego is going to spread throughout the country."
Tuesday’s announcement in San Diego included a “Behind the Bar” event with local celebrity chef Brian Malarkey. Sporting a green barista apron, Malarkey learned to make his favorite Starbucks drinks and helped promote the hunger relief initiative.
Jane Maly, program manager for Starbucks, told NBC 7 the company strongly believes in the battle against hunger. She said the food that would normally go to waste will "get a second life" when it is donated to local food banks.
"We are so proud to be able to deliver meals from our stores every night back into the communities that we serve here in San Diego," Maly said. "We are more than just a coffee company. We need to make a difference."
To learn more about Feeding America San Diego, click here.