By Emily Drew
One in six Americans live in “food insecure” homes. This means one in six Americans is seriously hungry, likely under-nourished or malnourished and doesn’t know when he/she will have their next meal.
When Panera Bread Founder and CEO Ronald Shaich learned this, he thought about how Panera Bread opens two restaurants every week, employs 60,000 people, and he knew Panera’s resources could have impact on America’s hunger problem. He personally set out to help, pitched his board (with a lot of respect and credibility under his belt), created a foundation and the result is a new kind of chain restaurant: pay-what-you-can Paneras.
Shaich’s vision was to create a restaurant where anyone could eat a meal with dignity, a place far removed from the institutional food of most soup kitchens, where the hungry too often line up with their heads held low.
“In place like that all you’ve got are people in pain around you,” Shaich said today as he told his story in a moving talk at Sustainable Brands ’11. “You see it and you feel it, and you get to the institutional food that you ate in third grade. Sure it feeds your belly, but it leaves you no dignity.”
Panera Cares shops look like any other Panera Bread, but the prices are just suggestions. If you can pay, you do. If you can’t, you don’t. If you can pay more, you’re welcome.
Read more at Matter Network