Starbucks to donate all of its unused food to those in need

Starbucks agrees that it's painful to imagine all those perfectly-fine muffins, bagels and breakfast sandwiches going into the trash at the end of the day.

On Tuesday, Starbucks pledged to donate 100 percent of its leftover food in a partnership with two groups, Feeding America, a non-profit dedicated to ending hunger and Food Donation Connection, a group that connects those who need to dispose edible food with the hungry.

The iconic coffee purveyor says its own employees inspired the bold step. Several baristas spoke out about the policy of trashing food, and Starbucks decided to find a way to launch the program while still complying with the food safety regulations that have made such large donations difficult.

Since 2010, Starbucks has already been donating many of its leftover pastries with the help of the Food Donation Connection.

Starbucks is calling the new program FoodShare, and hopes to scale to 100 percent of its leftovers by 2021. Starbucks will start with 5 million meals next year, and scale up to roughly 50 million, according to the plan. The United States has 48.1 million people living in houses where food is scarce, according to Feeding America.

So how will it work?

Refrigerated vans will stop by the thousands of Starbucks stores each day to pick up leftover food and drive it to Feeding America.

"The challenge was finding a way to preserve the food’s quality during delivery," said Jane Maly, brand manager of the Starbucks Food team. "We focused on maintaining the temperature, texture and flavor of the surplus food, so when it reached a person in need, they could safely enjoy it.”

Beyond helping feed the hungry, Starbucks says it is dedicated to minimizing its environmental footprint.