In many cities around the world, it’s hard to walk a few blocks without passing by a Starbucks. Imagine if each one of those locations –  7,600 store in the U.S. – were to donate all of the food that what wasn’t sold at the end of the day? Well, now we no longer have to imagine.

Starbucks recently announced its newest program, FoodShare. In partnership with Food Donation Connection and Feeding America, Starbucks will donate ready-to-eat meals to food banks across America. It’s estimated that FoodShare will be able to donate about five million meals to individuals and families in its first year. And by 2021, that number is projected to reach 50 million meals.

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Why is this such a landmark move? Because according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 50 million Americans face hunger every single day. This statistic is shocking, considering how much available food there is in the U.S. So why are so many Americans going hungry every day? Two words: food waste.

In 2013, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that, every year, the world throws out about 1.3 billion tons of food. And every month, the average American citizen throws out roughly 20 pounds of food. That amounts to roughly 30 million tons of food waste entering the waste stream annually in the United States.

Not only will Starbuck’s new initiative nourish families in need, but it will also allow the company to minimize its environmental footprint by not letting food reach the landfill. This is equally as important as feeding the hungry, because as food waste decays in a landfill, methane gas is released. The methane escapes and enters the atmosphere where it acts as a greenhouse gas (that happens to be much more potent than carbon dioxide).

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“Our hope is by taking this first step, other companies will see the possibility for their participation and together we will make great strides in combating hunger,” Cliff Burrows, group president of Starbucks U.S. and Americas, said in an announcement on Starbucks’ website.  “FoodShare will not only make our partners proud, but once again will allow us to live our values.”

It’s amazing to see huge companies like Starbucks step up the plate and do what’s right. Hopefully, this is the first of many companies making the move to donate their unused food and help those in need. Looks like a food waste-free future might be in sight, thanks to the initiatives put forth by companies like Starbucks!

What Else Can You Do To Help?

Food wastage is a major environmental problem that we can all help combat with our daily actions. Just check out these six ways you can cut down on food waste, ten ideas to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle, and these simple ways to minimize waste in cooking. If you can’t stop waste at the source, you can always try composting! Check out this guide to composting 101 to get started. Together we can keep more food out of landfills – a win for people, animals, and the planet all around!

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Featured Image Source: Starbucks