March 24, 2016 8:21 pm

Starbucks to donate unsold food from 7,600 US locations

Starbucks' new FoodShare program will see food donated to those in need instead of thrown in the trash.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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Starbucks has announced FoodShare, a program to donate unsold prepared food from its 7,600 company-operated locations in the United States to local food banks.

The massive coffee chain, creator of the beloved Pumpkin Spiced Latte and never-ending source of comical name fails, estimates the program will provide nearly five million meals in its first year to families and individuals in need.

When packaged refrigerated items such as salads and sandwiches are past their designated “sell-by” expiration date but still perfectly good to eat, Starbucks staffers will donated the food instead of tossing it away.

WATCH: Canadians waste a staggering $31 billion in food every year and it’s having a huge impact environmentally and economically

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The program, while helping to feed the estimated 48-million U.S. citizens living in food-insecure households, will also divert waste from the landfill.

Food waste is a big problem: in Canada it’s estimated upwards of $31 billion worth of food ends up in the bin every year.

READ MORE: Food waste at record levels as other Canadians go hungry

Meanwhile, food bank usage is going up in communities across the country.

While Starbucks FoodShare is only officially launching in the U.S. for now, similar donations are already happening from Canada locations.

“In Canada we currently have measures in place to donate unused food and are working to formalize the practices so that we can maximize our efforts in this market,” Starbucks spokesperson Mary Saunoris told Global News in an email.

“We are learning from the rollout of the program in the U.S. and are currently exploring the best way to expand this program in the most local relevant way.”

Food rescue programs such as Second Harvest even pick-up food from stores or restaurants donating. The demand to donate food has actually overwhelmed the Toronto organization.

“We have over 50 organizations on our waiting list,” Debra Lawson, executive director of Second Harvest told Global News last fall. “Last year we picked up over 7 million pounds of food.”

In Ontario there is no liability concern for those donating food, with protection under the Donation of Food Act.

With a file from Global News’ Peter Kim

© 2016 Shaw Media

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