Ron Shaich’s “Panera Cares” experiments with “pay-what-you-can” to help with food insecurity

 

Ron Shaich built a major business — Au Bon Pain, then sold it off. While you’ve probably heard of Panera Bread, the popular national bakery/café chain — his second venture — you may not have heard of Panera Cares. The Panera Cares Cafes are only open in select locations and they do business differently. At these cafes the cash registers have been replaced by donation bins, the price list has been replaced by suggested donation amounts (equivalent to retail value at other Panera restaurants) and food is available to all regardless of ability to pay. The Panera Cares website cites that “49 million people – including 16 million children — are food insecure. That means that 1 in 7 households have difficulty providing enough food for all their members at some time during the year.” Thus Panera Cares uses a pay-what-you-can model to help those who struggle with food insecurity. 

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