Holiday hunger relief: Starbucks partners, customers make a difference

During a time when many are struggling with hunger due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Starbucks partners and customers can help make a difference. From Dec. 10 to Dec. 11, for every bag of Christmas Blend or Decaf Christmas Blend coffee purchased at participating Starbucks stores within the U.S., Starbucks will donate the equivalent of 10 meals ($1.00) to Feeding America® to help feed neighbors in need.* Customers can also play the Starbucks for Life game from Dec. 1 through Jan. 4, where players can win a donation to Feeding America on their behalf.

Below, read about a Starbucks store manager who feeds Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds each year and find out how you can have an impact through Feeding America.

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Feeding the soul: Starbucks partner provides Thanksgiving meals to hundreds each year

Nicole Briggs, Starbucks store manager.

When Nicole Briggs put together her first community Thanksgiving event, she wanted to help some of the single mothers living in a family shelter in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. She gathered donations from family and friends and passed out about 50 “blessing bags” – rice, canned goods, socks, deodorant, toothbrushes.

“It definitely wasn’t enough,” remembers Briggs, a Starbucks store manager in Manhattan. “It made me realize there are so many people that are in need. I thought, I can give more.”

That was eight years ago. Since then, she’s added piece upon piece, partnering with local community leaders and organizations doing similar work, to eventually create “Food for the Soul” – a hot Thanksgiving feast for anyone who needs a hot meal during the holidays. The event is held at a local shelter that’s been converted into a makeshift banquet hall. Volunteers provide table service. And two charter buses even do a circuit around the borough, picking up people and families who need a ride.

Last year, Briggs helped serve turkey, chicken, ham and all the sides and desserts to about 300 families. This year, with concerns about social distancing and COVID-19, the food will be served grab-and-go style. Briggs is planning to serve 500 people.

“Right now, people are going through a lot, whether it’s mental health, being on a tight budget, unemployment,” Briggs says. “This is just about letting them know, that whatever you’re going through, we want you to feel special. We want you to just enjoy a hot meal with no worries.”

Starbucks is proud of our partners like Briggs, who are doing the hard work of being a good neighbor, especially around the issue of hunger. Starbucks knows it’s more important than ever to help neighbors in need, especially during the holidays, as the pandemic continues to negatively impact communities and more families struggle with hunger.

Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, estimates 50 million people could face hunger this year as a result of the pandemic. The organization expects the need for charitable food to grow to 17 billion pounds next year, more than three times Feeding America's typical annual distribution of 5 billion pounds.

Starbucks commitment to help end hunger

Starbucks is committed to helping fight food insecurity. Since 2016, the company has worked closely with Feeding America to donate more than 28 million nourishing and ready-to-eat meals to food banks. Starbucks is also investing in innovative solutions like mobile food pantries.

Starbucks FoodShare Program

“Hunger doesn’t take a break during the holidays. This season may look different for millions of people across the country as more families seek food assistance, many for the first time,” said Casey Marsh, Chief Development Officer at Feeding America. “We are so grateful to Starbucks for fighting hunger in communities across the country. Feeding America encourages everyone to give back and help their neighbors who need it most.”

Local food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens rely on support from their communities to provide meals to families in need this holiday season. Starbucks provides an opportunity for customers to help too. From Dec. 10 to Dec. 11, for every bag of Christmas Blend or Decaf Christmas Blend coffee purchased at participating Starbucks stores within the U.S., Starbucks will donate the equivalent of 10 meals ($1.00) to Feeding America® to help feed neighbors in need.* Also, from Dec. 1 to Jan. 4, customers can play the Starbucks for Life game and win a donation to Feeding America on their behalf.

‘Do it from your heart’

Briggs, 43, still lives in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood where she was born and raised. She managed a clothing store on Fifth Avenue in New York, worked as a middle school and high school math teacher in Brooklyn and joined Starbucks as a store manager 11 years ago. She saw a lot of poverty in her community growing up, and also saw up close how her mother dealt with the need – by feeding anyone who was hungry.

“My house was the house where everyone came to eat and hang out,” Briggs says. “I get it now. I owe my mother a lot for helping the community and making me be able to see, it’s OK to help others without judgment. She taught me how to treat others, how to care for others. Just look at how you can help them at the moment. Do it from your heart.”

Briggs says her mother – Ms. Barbara, as she’s known – is like the neighborhood mayor. She still lives in the same house, still walks the neighborhood with her cane, still puts on community barbecues during the summer.

This isn’t the only community project Briggs is involved in. As part of the company’s Global Season of Cheer – during November and December, Starbucks encourages partners to volunteer in their communities and make a positive impact – Briggs also puts on a holiday party for kids in local family shelters. Throughout the year, she also holds toy drives, coat drives and backpack distribution events.

She also helps put on an annual summer basketball tournament, securing a community-service grant from The Starbucks Foundation to renovate a neighborhood park three years ago. This upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. Day, she’ll be repainting a local charter school with other Starbucks partners during the company’s annual Week of Service.

Briggs thinks back to the impactful moments that keep her going. Three or four years ago, she remembers meeting a single mother and her family who came to the Thanksgiving event. Afterwards, one of the kids, maybe 8 years old, asked Briggs if she could take some more food home. She said she and her siblings didn’t have enough to eat. “That moment, I knew, I have to keep doing this,” says Briggs, who has a son of a similar age. “I don’t want any child to feel that way.”

The groups helping Briggs with this year’s Thanksgiving feast include Life Empowered NYC, Just Cooking B Catering Service and Moneet’s Closet, which was one of more than 400 nonprofit organizations across the U.S. to be recently awarded a total of $1.5 million in Neighborhood Grants by The Starbucks Foundation to promote racial equity. Starbucks, as it has in past years, will also support the event with volunteers, coffee and food donations.

“I love my community. I love the people in my community,” Briggs says. “With everything that’s going on with social injustice and COVID, the only thing that’s going to get us through this thing is love. I know people are hurting, people are in need. How do I bring that love? If you show people that you care, that you love them, everyone wins in that situation.”

* Offer valid at participating Starbucks stores within the U.S. One dollar helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks.

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