Starbucks customer gives unsold food to foreign workers

Singapore - Some foreign workers doing road works near Singapore Polytechnic had a pleasant surprise when they were plied with afternoon treats of pastries, muffins and sandwiches last Saturday (June 18).

This was all thanks to Starbucks coffee chain and one of its customers.

Ms Dipa Swaminathan, 44, was buying coffee at a Starbucks outlet at the polytechnic near Clementi when she saw staff removing unsold food while preparing to close the store at 4pm.

Just before they were about to throw away "perfectly good-quality food", Ms Dipa asked them whether she could distribute the food to the workers she had seen doing road work nearby. The staff agreed and packed the food in bags.

In a Facebook post, Ms Dipa said: "They handed me two bags of pastries, muffins and sandwiches (all very kindly warmed up) and I was lucky enough to find workers right down the road. The workers were delighted, and as I turned back after handing them the food I saw them all happily snacking, sitting on the pavement."

Ms Dipa, who wrote on a Facebook page called Itsrainingraincoats, said she hopes to distribute unsold food items from Starbucks every Saturday if she could. She also appeals to others to do the same to reduce food waste while helping less-privileged communities.

It might just inspire some to join her in the act judging from the tremendous response to her post. It has garnered 10,000 reactions and 1,600 shares since last Saturday.

Read also: Food wastage on the rise, but F&B companies not keen to donate





The Singapore permanent resident told Today that she has been thinking about distributing unsold food to migrant workers on a larger scale for some time, and the opportunity last Saturday gave her more willpower to pursue the plan.

Ms Dipa, who is the founder of an initiative which distributes rain coats to migrant workers, told Today: "I would like to explore ways to do this more regularly, on a more institutional level."



Starbucks in America had started the ball rolling in March when it decided to donate all of its leftover prepared meals to food banks in a new initiative.

The coffee giant teamed up with the Food Donation Connection (FDC) and Feeding America, which pick up the food at 7,600 Starbucks locations and redistribute it.

Starbucks has been working with the FDC since 2010 to donate leftover pastries, but has added properly maintained perishable food to the end-of-day pick up.

Starbucks brand manager Jane Maly had said in a press statement: "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."

The chain estimates it will be able to contribute almost 5 million meals at the end of its first year of the programme.

chenj@sph.com.sg

Read also: Food Bank Singapore distributes donated food to the needy