Food Waste: Starbucks Coffee Company

Starbucks Coffee Company is known for their deep roots in their local communities while providing opportunities in and outside of the company. However, one opportunity for the company to become more involved with donating daily food waste to local communities. Multiple food items often reach the sale by date and must be removed; despite the food being well within its expiration for consumption. The company has started with small changes, yet there is no specific standard for donating companywide; therefore, most of the food is thrown away. Starbucks not only needs to provide every store with the resources and tools to partner with local food banks; but to also make it an expectation company-wide.

In 2017 it was estimated that 30-40 percent of all food in the U.S was wasted. Much of which could have gone to feed those less fortunate, has ended up in land fields. At each company-operated store, there is an expected 6-10 percent waste that is allowed. Nearly all the food that goes into the display case for the day is considered okay if it all ends up in the trash at the end of the night. As the main purpose is the act as a menu for the customer rather than to be sellable food. Switching to plastic food or simply a menu would eliminate most of the food waste and allow more food to remain in its package to be donated if not sold.

In 2016 Starbucks launched “”FoodShare -a program to donate ready-to-eat meals to food banks from its 7,600 company stores in the U.S”” (Coffee and Company, 2016). Along with the commitment that in five years, 100 percent of stores would be a part of this program. However, we are almost three years in and not even half of the stores have adopted this program. I found through research with the store operations manual, that Feeding America is the only organization that we are allowed to partner with for food donations. Therefore, the biggest reason that every store has not adopted this is due to not having access to an approved food bank that is close enough to their location. The food donation vans can only pick up in certain regions due to needing to stay near a drop off location to keep the food fresh.

Although Feeding America is a huge organization with over 200 food banks, Starbucks has over 8000 stores in the U.S alone. With only partnering with Feeding America and to come through with their commitment for every store to be donating; that would mean each food bank would need to support over 40 stores. Due to the expiration of the food and the number of stores and distances between, one food bank is just not capable of doing it all. Each store needs to be allowed to work through their community to donate food locally to become a part of this movement.

Starbucks as a whole has always been one of the first companies to jump onto an issue and want to inspire change. Helping with disaster relief, donating coffee to local communities, commitments to hire veterans and give jobs opportunities. It is extremely inspiring to see that they want to grow and make good changes. Partnering with Feeding America is a huge step in the right direction. Although, they need to remember that it is only beginning, and they need to work through their leaders in each store to allow them to inspire change in their communities. They need to take a closer look at a store level to find ways to eliminate waste and to provide the tools needed to allow every store to partner in the donation commitment. Feeding America doesn’t currently have the capacity to support every Starbucks store, so looking more locally can help cover the gap. If an immediate change is made, there is a strong possibility that they can achieve their 5-year commitment.

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