What Really Happens To Trader Joe's Leftover Food?

When you buy eggs from Trader Joe's, or any store for that matter, chances are one of the first things you do is check if there are any broken ones, or at the very least check if the expiration date is within a reasonable time frame. But once you pay for your eggs and bring them home, it's likely you're not thinking about what's going to happen to all the other broken or almost-expired eggs you left behind at the store. This, however, is something Trader Joe's places a great deal of importance on, as Planet Forward shared. Unlike most grocery stores, Trader Joe's donates "100% of food that is not fit for sale, but safe for consumption. This includes items like day-of expiring foods, dented cereal boxes, cartons of eggs that may have a single cracked egg, and pieces of misshapen produce."

Donating leftover food might seem like a pretty simple, straightforward process, but there's a reason other stores don't bother with it: The logistics of doing so can get complicated. It's more than just dropping off packages at local food banks. It involves tracking and transporting, extra storage, partnerships with reputable food banks, as well as a staff specifically dedicated to managing every donation.

Trader Joe's food donation efforts have a big impact

The people who stock the shelves or run the cash register aren't the same ones handling food donations. Every Trader Joe's has a donation coordinator and a team behind them that works specifically with U.S. hunger relief organization Feeding America, forming the Neighborhood Shares program. Thanks to this collective effort, Trader Joe's now has one of the leading food waste management programs in the country, and that's pretty impressive considering it's a grocery store, not an independent organization. "Even during the pandemic, the chain has made sure to honor its commitment to safely find ways to donate 100% of its unsold food to local food banks as part of its Neighborhood Shares program," Yahoo! Lifestyle reported.

While Trader Joe's food donations directly combat food waste in America, their program actually stems from their environmentally-friendly values, as explained on the Trader Joe's website. Most grocery store leftovers unfortunately end up in landfills, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and therefore climate change. It's part of the reason Trader Joe's takes their Neighborhood Shares program so seriously. Apparently it's a win-win situation all around. If you're looking to support sustainable food shopping (and eat wholesomely while you're at it), clearly there's no excuse not to shop at Trader Joe's.