Three homeless shelters in Chicago have undergone an extreme food-makeover, thanks to a partnership with Starbucks, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Feeding America and the Greater Chicago Food Depository are to thank for the newly-formed relationship with the popular coffee spot. So now three of Chicago’s largest homeless shelters can scrap the traditional PB&Js they hand out and distribute items on the Mercato lunch menu such as Cuban sandwiches and the green goddess avocado salads.
The Depository says it collects approximately 1,900 pounds of food from the chain store, which equals up to about 1,600 meals to hand out. The items arrive at night, and are delivered to the shelters by morning.
The shelters already relied on local restaurants and the Chicago Food Depository for food donations, such as pork chops or chicken for dinner and eggs and sausages for breakfast. But this new partnership has staff and volunteers noticing positive changes, such as less food waste and freed up hours, the Tribune reports.
Genice Bowles, manager of the shelter in West Pullman, told the Chicago Tribune that “Sometimes people would just walk out and drop the peanut butter sandwiches on the street” but that it “doesn’t happen anymore” since they began distributing the Starbucks lunch items.
Additionally, those peanut butter sandwiches made for hundreds of homeless Chicagoans would supposedly take volunteers about three hours to make. But now it takes just one to gather together the food intended to “ease the 12-hour stretch that residents spend out of the shelters during the day.”
Program Director of the Franciscan House Program in East Garfield Park noted that this initiative also helps to take care of those shelters guests that have dietary limitations.
And this specific program may be just the first step to Starbucks’ expanding their hunger relief program. If this specific program in Chicago succeeds, the coffee chain will work to expand it nationwide.