The employees at the Starbucks in the Eastgate Shopping Center in South Riding Virginia aren’t just serving up Grande Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiatos, they are serving up a helping hand to the local community. Every Wednesday morning, volunteers from the Dulles South Food Pantry stop by there to pick up fresh bakery items to distribute to Pantry guests later that day.
Since the program began four months ago, Starbucks has donated over eighty pounds of food to the Pantry. The items being donated range from bagels to banana bread to croissants. “These are a real treat for our guests. People struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table appreciate having fresh baked goods in addition to the canned food normally distributed by the Pantry”, explains Charlene Jones, Pantry President.
The program began when employees, led by Jessie Johnson, saw good food going in the trash. With the support of store manager, Maria James and district manager, Evie Szafirska, Johnson contacted the Dulles South Food Pantry to see if the food could be used. They set up a system where the store saves food that can no longer be sold, but is still fresh and delicious, for Pantry volunteers to pick-up and distribute to the hungry in the area.
Johnson explains that “It was a team effort. All of the employees in the store noticed the waste and wanted to do something about it.” Johnson and her colleagues felt that it would be a great opportunity to give to hungry people rather than putting the food in the trash. “It has helped employee morale to know that the food is going to help others and it feels good to be a part of it”, says Johnson.
The employees plan to continue this program and work with the Pantry into the future. Jones is thrilled because as she explains, “The Pantry relies on the support of local businesses and the generosity of our community to provide fresh and nourishing food for our guests. We are extremely grateful for the support given to us by Starbucks and the initiative of its employees to reach out to us.”