Target: Ron Shaich, Chief Executive of Panera Bread Company
Goal: Applaud donation-based restaurants that provide good food for customers of all income levels
The Panera Bread Company has branded itself as a feel-good and wholesome chain of restaurants. But last year, they proved that this was more than just branding when they opened the first Panera Cares Cafe in Boston.
Panera Cares serves the same food as a normal Panera. The catch is, the meals are donation-based, meaning you could pay $0 or $100 and still get the same meal. The model proved successful enough that they opened more. There are now a total of six Panera Cares Cafes, the last of which opened in St. Louis.
People who normally eat via food stamps, or who are dependent on soup kitchens, or who do not know where their next meal is coming from, can get a solid meal at Panera. No one is going to ask them any questions or have them prove anything — they can just eat.
This model is Chief Executive Ron Shaich’s brain child. He has made it a priority for Panera to battle food insecurity and homelessness however it can. Right now, 14.5 percent of Americans are labeled as food insecure. There are even some families with working parents that are still insecure.
We applaud Ron Shaich and Panera for helping to alleviate this food insecurity crisis. By allowing people to have a hearty meal from Panera, Panera is showing the strength that a for-profit business can have to effect social change.
Dear Mr. Shaich,
We want to thank you for harnessing the potential good a business can have. The Panera Cares Cafes are a wonderful model for other restaurant chains and businesses to replicate.
In a time when even a developed country like the United States has a food insecurity problem, those of us who are more well off need to step in and help. We need to support each other. In some cases, the support comes in the form of a decent meal. Too often, people who do not have enough food are not normally eating wholesome foods. Panera Cares allows people to eat healthily.
For that, we thank you. We hope to see other businesses following your lead in the future, and start thinking beyond profit margins. We are now in a time where the all stakeholders in the community need to be considered, beyond just the shareholders.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: baron valium via Flickr