WASHINGTON: Coffee chain Starbucks is going to donate unsold meals, sandwiches and salads to hungry and needy people in the United States rather than throw them out.
The company announced to a shareholders meeting Wednesday that it is joining a US national program, Feeding America, to help needy people by donating rather than tossing out each evening the still-edible prepared meals it sells.
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It said that it aims to donate leftover ready-to-eat meals from all of its 7,600 outlets in the United States within the next five years.
"In the first year alone, Starbucks FoodShare will be able to provide nearly five million meals to individuals and families in need of nourishing food," the company said.
By 2021 the number could be 50 million meals a year.
The challenge, it said, is to ensure that salads, sandwiches and other refrigerated meals can still be consumed safely even if they are past the expiration dates on their labels.
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Feeding America and Food Donation Connection, another group Starbucks is partnering with, have been working to convince restaurants, cafeterias and markets to donate leftover food to help poor Americans, rather than see good food end up in garbage dumps.