Starbucks is joining the fight against food waste.
The company announced a new initiative to donate unsold food to charity, on Tuesday. The 7,600 Starbucks stores in the U.S. will now give away surplus ready-to-eat meals to food banks as part of a new program, FoodShare, according to a press release.
“Nobody should go to bed hungry. It’s not OK,” Teva Sakima, a Starbucks employee, said in the release. She recalled when her parents struggled to put food on the table. “Those feelings are hard to forget.”
Almost 50 million Americans -- or one in six people -- live in households that struggle to afford food, according to Feeding America.
In the first year, Starbucks will provide almost 5 million meals to families and individuals in need. Over the next five years, the company plans to scale its program to rescue 100 percent of available food for donation, reaching 50 million people by 2021.
For the initiative, Starbucks is partnering with Feeding America and Food Donation Connection. FDC has been working with Starbucks since 2010 to collect pastries that can no longer be sold to customers in store, and now it will adding perishable food to its regular pickups. For Feeding America, a refrigerated van will pick up leftover food from Starbucks stores each day and redistribute the food to the organization’s food bank network, according to the release.
Starbucks is the latest business to join the fight against food waste. Tesco, the U.K.’s largest grocer, recently announced it will donate all unsold food to charity. Some European countries have made bold moves against food waste as well: France has made it illegal for supermarkets to waste food, with all vendors having to either compost or donate unsold items. And Italy is poised to pass a new law offering tax benefits to vendors who donate surplus food and pharmaceutical products.