In the three years since Flagship founded the Food Rescue Program in partnership with Meta (formerly Facebook), it has grown from a small initiative with two participating cafes to a large-scale operation serving up restaurant-quality meals from coast to coast.
As of Q2 2022, the program had donated more than half a million meals (579,341, to be exact) – an important milestone for Flagship, Meta, and program partners.
The mission of the Food Rescue Program is to donate surplus product from Meta cafes and cafes – operated by Flagship – to communities facing food insecurity. Not only do the cafes donate prepared food, but they contribute unused raw product, including proteins, vegetables, and starches.
The Food Rescue Program was born in the Bay Area with the launch of A La Carte – a food recovery initiative by Joint Venture now run by Loaves & Fishes. Loaves & Fishes is a non-profit that has been providing meals to Bay Area residents for more than 40 years. Flagship and Meta started by donating surplus food from two cafes – Gateway and Butcher’s Block.
Since then, the program has expanded to include all of Meta's cafes in the Bay Area as well as cafes in Boston, New York, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and 11 North American data centers.
How It Works
Operated in conjunction with Loaves & Fishes, the Bay Area program is unique. Loaves & Fishes uses a food truck to deliver refrigerated product, which is collected from Meta cafes following daily service. This product is never handled by guests; only certified culinary team members handle food for donation. All product is cooled to a safe temperature and then packaged and labeled with the ingredients, allergens, and cook date.
Loaves & Fishes has developed partnerships with elementary schools in the area surrounding Meta HQ to support families in need. The food truck provides both a convenient and approachable setting for individuals accepting donations. Other product is distributed directly from Loaves & Fishes brick-and-mortar sites.
Outside of California, the program partners with organizations such as Lovin’ Spoonfuls in Boston, Rethink Food in New York, and FareStart in Seattle. Although similar to the partnership with Loaves & Fishes, each relies on its own model to meet the demands of the local community.
Despite the closure of Meta’s cafes, the Food Rescue Program found a way to support chefs and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. It continued operating by purchasing meals from two restaurants near Meta’s offices – Mi Taqueria and BackAYard – and distributing them throughout the community.
The Flagship Culinary Team also volunteered at the Loaves & Fishes kitchen in Morgan Hill, preparing food, training cooks, and providing constructive culinary feedback.
To take things a step further, Flagship CEO Dave Pasek donated funds directly to program partners to help keep their doors open and meet soaring demand. Loaves & Fishes tripled their meal volume as a result of the pandemic, and demand only continues to increase.
So, how do you beat half a million meals? Flagship and Meta are in the process of reviving a pre-pandemic volunteer program that would give employees the opportunity to distribute meals directly to the community from the Loaves & Fishes-A La Carte truck.
The program also looks forward to supporting Loaves & Fishes as it opens a new 12,600-square-foot facility in San Jose. The organization is raising $2.5 million to build out the kitchen area, which could increase its capacity to about 10,000 meals per day.
For more information on Flagship’s community outreach initiatives, visit https://flagshipculinaryservices.com/big-business-local-impact/.