About 165 gallons of perfectly good doughnuts. A plethora of decadently delicious pies. Where do all of these things end up? More often than not, in the trash can. 

To a non-food service worker, restaurant waste isn’t a huge issue. The customer collects their dozen doughnuts and doesn’t worry about what happens to the rest of the treats after the store lights go off. But should that change? Should consumers be more aware of how the business they’re supporting treats the environment and the community around them?

“America Runs On Dunkin’” is the slogan of popular donut chain Dunkin Donuts, which recently opened a franchise in Hutchinson. Dunkin’ policy states that employees are not allowed to take donuts home, and must throw away any remaining pastries at the end of the night. On average, a Dunkin’ bakes 40 dozen donuts, and rarely sells more than 25 dozen in a day, which leaves 15 dozen, give or take, at the end of the night. And that’s just counting the donuts. That doesn’t factor in bagels, croissants, muffins, or any other pastries for sale.

So if employees can’t take them home, then they simply throw them away. Instead of boxing them up for delivery to a soup kitchen, or to be dropped off for first responders, they’re dropped unceremoniously in the garbage.

How about another massive chain of coffee shops? Starbucks also has a franchise in Hutchinson, incidentally right across the street from where Dunkin’ is in Hutchinson on 17th Avenue. Starbucks policy allows employees first dibs on what pastries are left from the day, and anything that remains is stored in a refrigerated truck to be delivered to the local soup kitchen or food bank. A local Starbucks employee says “very few times does it get tossed”. Maybe a refrigerated truck costs a little extra, but it helps provide for those in the community that are less fortunate.

Small businesses are better about it, right? Dutch Kitchen Restaurant in nearby Pleasantview is known for their homemade pies, cinnamon rolls, and breads, but of course it’s rare to completely sell out of everything. Instead of throwing away day-old products, the Dutch discounts them and sells them the next day. Whatever doesn’t sell goes home with employees or is taken to different charities.

So why do some businesses care so little about what is done with leftover products? Why don’t business owners put a little bit more effort into reaching out and donating products into the community? Here in Hutchinson, the Christian Soup Kitchen Ministries takes donations, as does the Food Bank of Reno County. And what night shift nurse wouldn’t gladly accept a donut to get them through the night?

Businesses should be more in tune to what can help the community and give their brand name a boost instead of piling up the landfills.

Paige Asberry is a high school senior from Nickerson in general studies.

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