Starbucks launches donation program as food insecurity hits record

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Starbucks is expanding its food donation program to all of its U.S. company-operated stores Friday in order to help address the hunger crisis which worsened over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. 

As part of its FoodShare program, which works in partnership  with Feeding America, nearly 8,000 locations will package eligible unsold food every evening and deliver the meals to nonprofits around the U.S.

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The company's FoodShare program initially launched in 2016 – although only 74% of stores participated until Friday. 

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The move comes as the total food insecure population increases. Even though the economy continues to rebound from the depths of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of children and families living in America continue to face food insecurity every day, according to Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States.

Starbucks Coffee shop in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass.  (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File) / AP Newsroom)

Approximately 42 million people – including a potential 13 million children – could face food insecurity in 2021 due to the virus-related economic fallout, according to the hunger-relief organization. 

That's up from the over 35 million people in the U.S who experienced hunger in 2019, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture.  

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Over the past year, the virus pushed millions of people out of work, forcing many to rely on food banks.

"At the same time, Feeding America network food banks are facing an unprecedented set of circumstances with increased demand, a decline in food donations, and fewer volunteers," according to Feeding America. 

Data from Feeding America shows that its members dispensed far more in the last three months of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. 

The food banks that agreed to let Feeding America publicly share their data – 180 out of 200 total – collectively distributed far more food, about 42%, during the last quarter of 2020 than in the same period in 2019.

FEEDING AMERICA CEO: QUEST TO FIGHT US HUNGER CRISIS AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC HER 'GREATEST HONOR'

In addition to expanding the program, the company is also donating $1.7 million to Feeding America for grants to help provide equitable access to nutritious food in under-resourced communities. 

For the past five years, the Seattle-based coffee maker donated more than 33.7 million ready-to-eat meals to local food banks across the U.S. 

Over the next decade, however, the company plans to reinvest $100 million in hunger relief efforts in order to reach more households. 

To date, Starbucks has donated $45 million toward addressing hunger relief.  

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