Muffins on the rocks
June 24, 2009 6:58 PM   Subscribe

Where do you donate day old coffee shop pastries?

I was at my local coffee shop around closing and saw them throw out a lot of perfectly good pastries (I know I took home a few).

I was wondering who would I talk to in my community about possibly donating them to a shelter or something similar? Is it even legal or helpful?

Would some sort of "Top of the Muffin" incident ensue if I tried?
posted by Groovytimes to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Depending where you are, a local Food Not Bombs group or a local food shelf (link goes to Vermont example, your state may have one as well) would likely take them and if you had enough of them, arrange for a regular pickup. A soup kitchen would likely take them as well. You migh twan tto talk to the coffee shop and see what their policies are on the matter. Some businesses have rules about where day-old food goes that may or may not have to do with local regulations and more to do with stoe policies.
posted by jessamyn at 7:01 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I used to work in a bagel shop, and somebody from the local City Mission would come and pick up our leftovers after closing on most days. (We did separate sweet and savory products, though. No one wants their cinnamon raisin bagel tainted with onion or garlic.) So yes, donating to a shelter should be doable.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 7:10 PM on June 24, 2009


You might want to contact your local food bank and let them approach the coffee shop (they would know how to handle the usual objections.) I would start with Second Harvest (now called Feeding America. Their website will give you information about their local partnerns in your state.
posted by metahawk at 7:12 PM on June 24, 2009


When I worked at Starbucks, one of our coworkers took the day-old pastries to an assisted living place nearby. I'm not sure why that was the case, but that's supposedly where they went. The leftovers went into a bag in the big fridge in the back, and once a week she'd pick them up. The oldest ones looked pretty sad by the week's end, though.

I'm sure there's no harm in asking the manager at your coffee shop--especially if you have a specific organization and plan in mind. You don't want to come across as just having a vague idea that the pastries shouldn't be thrown out, and you need to understand that they may not want to keep several days' worth of day-old pastries in their refrigerator so that you can pick them up once a week. If that's the case, or if the pastries simply won't keep that long, maybe you could arrange for a pick-up on a daily or every other day basis with a rotating group of volunteer picker-uppers (though, depending on the quantity of pastries, this may not make sense).
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:16 PM on June 24, 2009


Soup kitchens are usually happy to have them, depending on quantity, but call first.
posted by availablelight at 7:20 PM on June 24, 2009


Yes it's legal and yes it's helpful. And yes you might run into complexities that ensue. A lot of Food Banks run in a fairly strict way with guidelines on what they accept and when/how it's picked up/delivered.

Another similar avenue would be contacting local churches.
posted by crustix at 7:46 PM on June 24, 2009


In New York we have City Harvest that picks up left-over food from cafes and restaurants. Perhaps your city has such a thing (maybe City Harvest could even direct you)
posted by Pineapplicious at 8:10 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


On Friday nights one of the coaches from my charity running team goes to the local bagel place to pick up the left over bagels. I always wonder why the local food bank doesn't scoop them all up, but they don't. At the end of a long run we are all happy to scarf down an old bagel.
posted by 26.2 at 8:17 PM on June 24, 2009


In some places, the Salvation Army arranges to pick up those kinds of things. But if it's only going to be a box or two, it isn't really worth the trip.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:21 PM on June 24, 2009


I went to school in Bloomington, IN. I remember this group of students on the fringes of normal society claiming they can relate more to the homeless than the "aristocrats".

They always went behind this awesome bagel shop after closing time. Apparently they threw their old bagels in a bag, and left it out back for the hungry. So of course this group thought it was for them.

Most of those kids are lawyers now (no joke)...but I do remember how almost every destitute person in Bloomington knew the name of this shop.

So I guess the food made it to where it was intended to go...except for those future lawyers.

Good luck!
posted by hal_c_on at 11:45 PM on June 24, 2009


We go through Food Runners, but that's an SF only place. They pick up the food from us and deliver them to shelters and such.

A little googling will show you the way.
posted by OrangeDrink at 11:45 PM on June 24, 2009


This was an astoundingly difficult thing to do when we had our bakery. Lots of places said they wanted the items, but couldn't get it together to show up a) on time or b) at all. Eventually we gave up and starting dropping stuff off to the nearest charity (an AIDS hospice) ourselves.
posted by Atom12 at 6:07 AM on June 25, 2009


I remember a few places i worked wouldn't allow this because of something along the lines that they would be held accountable for the food and its quality, even though it was past the time they would have tossed the food in the garbage and considered it unfit to sell. They didn't want or allow the food to be donated because it was hard to find a way around that.
posted by nzydarkxj at 8:11 AM on June 25, 2009


The smart thing to do (and what we did where I used to work) is to use them to make fabulous, wonderful, rich (and RESALABLE!! No food waste!) bread pudding. Maybe suggest this to the coffee shop OR the eventual recipients of the day-olds? You want them a little stale for this -- it helps them soak up all the yummy.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:49 AM on June 25, 2009


There's a bakery in Madison, WI that makes it known to local progressive groups, student and otherwise, that if they're holding an event they can pick some day old pastries up for it. I've eaten their bagels for Sierra Club, WISPIRG, OneSky, and Camp Wellstone events. Its a good way to help keep the small amount of funds these sorts of groups have going to the do the most good.
posted by andythebean at 1:03 PM on June 25, 2009


It may be legal, but the food safety issue nzydarkxj mentions is a real concern to many organisations and whether it's addressed in your area will depend on your local/state laws. Here in Australia there are several organisations which have successfully lobbied to introduce legislation which would "allow food businesses to donate quality produce to not-for-profit community groups free from common law liability."

If the legal issues aren't a problem, I'm sure there are plenty of organisations which will pick up food for the needy if it's available regularly.
posted by andraste at 7:26 PM on June 25, 2009


Sorry for the lateness of this resolution. After I got your answers I went around town and got a list going of some shelters that would be willing to take these extra pastries. I gave it to the coffee shop and the manager said he would forward it to his boss. I later moved away and never found out if they actually did it.
posted by Groovytimes at 12:44 PM on January 25, 2010


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