Starbucks may have drastically modified service in response to the coronavirus outbreak, but its operational locations are still hoping to fuel front-line responders.
On Wednesday, Starbucks announced that it would be offering a free tall coffee — hot or iced — to front-line workers through May 3, adding that the move was directly inspired by employees who were already finding ways to give back to their local communities.
“Over the last few weeks, partners have found ways to support those who are keeping our communities safe – particularly responders on the front line of the COVID-19 outbreak,” Starbucks wrote in a news release shared Wednesday. “Building on this commitment, Starbucks announced it will offer free coffee to frontline workers until May 3.”
In the past few weeks, Starbucks said it has observed employees (or “partners”) helping out their local first responders and healthcare workers by organizing deliveries, coffee donations, or even just sending messages of support.
“I am inspired by our Starbucks store partners around the world who proudly wear the green apron and who are rising to the occasion. They demonstrate our resilience and our commitment to the communities we serve,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in an open letter to employees shared on Sunday.
In the same release announcing its deal for front-line responders, Starbucks further confirmed that it had donated $500,000 total to Operation Gratitude and Direct Relief, two organizations that work to help those same responders.
Earlier this month, Starbucks locations in the U.S. had closed all seating areas to customers in response to the growing global outbreak of COVID-19, while still allowing for carryout, drive-thru and delivery options. On March 20, the company announced it would be restricting all ordering to drive-thru and delivery — and closing off cafes to walk-in customers — at all company-owned locations. The exception, however, being Starbucks locations “in and around” health centers or hospitals, to continue to serve medical workers.
Starbucks had also announced that employees would still be eligible to receive 30 days of pay, whether they were able to work or not.