A Starbucks store manager helps those in need, one meal at a time

Miranda Hoffer, a Starbucks store manager and military spouse in Arkansas, says that serving others doesn’t have to be a massive gesture.

When Miranda Hoffer thinks about how she can change the world, she remembers a lesson she learned this year.

“Serving others and mission work isn’t necessarily about going halfway around the world to give malaria medicine,” says Miranda, a Starbucks store manager in Fort Smith, Arkansas. “Sometimes, it’s just as important to take a walk a couple blocks from where you live and serve a meal.”  

The need became clear when she started working with Riverview Hope Campus, a nearby nonprofit that works with low-income families and individuals, and those experiencing homelessness. The organization helps people with housing and resources and offers mental health services and skills training.

“We have several affluent neighborhoods in our area. If you drove through them, you wouldn’t think poverty and hunger is prevalent around here,” Miranda says. “Until you’re willing to step into that, to be exposed to that, that’s when you see how great the need is.” 

On Friday nights earlier this year, Miranda and her store partners (employees) started volunteering with the Hope’s Casserole Program – a free weekly community meal. They made huge vats of deer-meat chili and dished out enormous trays of toast.

“It was eye-opening the first time we went,” Miranda recalls, “just to see how much it meant to everybody.” 

COVID-19 has temporarily halted volunteer opportunities on Friday nights, but Miranda and her team still donate unsold sandwiches and pastries four or five times per week to Hope through the company’s FoodShare program. They also bag used coffee grounds, which Hope uses as fertilizer for the nonprofit’s gardening program.

And Miranda and her team have helped secure two Neighborhood Grants from The Starbucks Foundation, which Hope used to build shelving and increase its food-storage capacity.  

“For me, community service is about how you show up consistently, not just one big project, nothing big or flashy, but that daily routine, that consistency,” Miranda says. “It just reinforces for us that even though we’re way out here in Fort Smith, Arkansas, what we do matters, it’s making an impact. You can build lasting community relationships and they can be sustained even in times like this.”  

Miranda wants to be an inspiration for her team, especially young women. She was adopted from China when she was 6 months old and has two adopted siblings. She finished school through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, which offers qualifying partners 100 percent tuition coverage for a first-time bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University’s online degree program. Her husband serves in the National Guard.  

“I’m proud to be a young store manager, proud to be female, proud of being Asian,” Miranda says. “Growing up, I didn’t see people in leadership roles that looked like me. I think that matters. It matters for the customers who come in, to see that representation. It matters for our partners.”