A Visionary Way To Bring Good Food To The Poor Is Taking Off

Photo: Carrie Leber

Photo: Carrie Leber

Don’t have enough money to go out and eat?  Panera Cares is an innovative café that allows you to pay what you can without leaving you feeling guilty or hungry. Via AlterNet:

If you were to only judge the world by watching the news, you’d think we had collectively lost all of our humanity, our intergrity. Neverending wars, devastating environmental disasters, punishing austerity measures… all of which impact the poorer among us more than the richer. Rare is the voice that speaks for the underprivileged. But, if you listen hard enough, you might just hear a little whisper out there in the distance.

Among those voices, Panera Bread founder Ron Shaich might well be the loudest. Last year, Shaich began an experiment in Clayton, Missouri. He opened a Panera Cares pay-what-you-can café and it has been an unqualified success, so much so that he has since opened two more locations – in Dearborn, Michigan, and Portland, Oregon. The goal, now, is to open one per quarter in diverse communities around the country – the geographical logic being that the folks with more means can help offset those with less.

[Continues at AlterNet]

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  • http://twitter.com/jasonpaulhayes jasonpaulhayes

    That’s AWESOME  … and on the subject of feeding people, check out this “Aquaculture” 3 acre Farm producing 1,000,000 pounds of food each year!

    Video is shitty but you’ll get the point, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV9CCxdkOng

  • jasonpaulhayes

    That’s AWESOME  … and on the subject of feeding people, check out this “Aquaculture” 3 acre Farm producing 1,000,000 pounds of food each year!

    Video is shitty but you’ll get the point, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV9CCxdkOng

  • Anonymous

    so regular alternet poster here.

    i saw this article saturday or sunday.

    i then read the comments.

    i was a bit appalled at the endless fawning for panera.

    are they practicing some kind of “responsible capitalism” (whatever that means…>.>)? probably.

    are they a 4 billion dollar a year company with fast food workers who make low wages, are un-unionised? yes.

    I appreciate their sentiment, but the article itself concedes the pay-what-you can stores make money.

    It’s not totally altruistic and perhaps i am a cynic, but i fail to see how this is going to change corporations or capitalism for the better/or at all.

    Not that i have any faith in either.

  • Jin The Ninja

    so regular alternet poster here.

    i saw this article saturday or sunday.

    i then read the comments.

    i was a bit appalled at the endless fawning for panera.

    are they practicing some kind of “responsible capitalism” (whatever that means…>.>)? probably.

    are they a 4 billion dollar a year company with fast food workers who make low wages, are un-unionised? yes.

    I appreciate their sentiment, but the article itself concedes the pay-what-you can stores make money.

    It’s not totally altruistic and perhaps i am a cynic, but i fail to see how this is going to change corporations or capitalism for the better/or at all.

    Not that i have any faith in either.

    • quartz99

      Yeah, I’m sure overall there’s a fair bit of cynical market positioning going on here but on the other hand, they’re actually doing some good and compared to most other fast food places, they do a lot of good and their food is a lot healthier than the average fast food. Our local one is the only business in the area that would allow collections for things like toys for tots and good harvest inside their store and they often host or donate to charitable causes in the community. And the people who work there seem generally happy about their job (as compared to bored McDonald’s employees who seem likely to spit or worse in your food because they’re so disgruntled). I’m sure that’s all variable from store to store but just in my experience Panera is deserving of just a little fawning, mostly in the hope that other companies will take note and do some good in the interests of getting more customers themselves. In the end, who cares if the do-gooding comes from a cynical market strategy or a genuine desire to help people, so long as they’re actually helping?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/WorldPeace-Shabazz-Archdeacon/100000658652449 WorldPeace Shabazz Archdeacon

      its a start…which is all you need for a trend

      • Jin The Ninja

        i believe the start is anti-capitalism. anything less is not enough.

  • wizard

    i will pay nothing and ask him to reimburse me for hoarding the crops that belongs to all of us by birth MEMES are living things 

  • wizard

    i will pay nothing and ask him to reimburse me for hoarding the crops that belongs to all of us by birth MEMES are living things 

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I’m sure overall there’s a fair bit of cynical market positioning going on here but on the other hand, they’re actually doing some good and compared to most other fast food places, they do a lot of good and their food is a lot healthier than the average fast food. Our local one is the only business in the area that would allow collections for things like toys for tots and good harvest inside their store and they often host or donate to charitable causes in the community. And the people who work there seem generally happy about their job (as compared to bored McDonald’s employees who seem likely to spit or worse in your food because they’re so disgruntled). I’m sure that’s all variable from store to store but just in my experience Panera is deserving of just a little fawning, mostly in the hope that other companies will take note and do some good in the interests of getting more customers themselves. In the end, who cares if the do-gooding comes from a cynical market strategy or a genuine desire to help people, so long as they’re actually helping?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001116335333 Jay Cooke

    Of course they can do this. They waste tons of food every day, so they probably figure they’re not going to lose anything by giving some away for free. The Panera near where I work will usually have 4 or 5 very large bags of leftover bread loaves, bagels, pastries, etc. sitting outside their front door for the local mission to pick up every night. Although, it does cut out the religious middle man, there’s not much change here that I see.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001116335333 Jay Cooke

    Of course they can do this. They waste tons of food every day, so they probably figure they’re not going to lose anything by giving some away for free. The Panera near where I work will usually have 4 or 5 very large bags of leftover bread loaves, bagels, pastries, etc. sitting outside their front door for the local mission to pick up every night. Although, it does cut out the religious middle man, there’s not much change here that I see.

  • Anon

    if this becomes too popular the large non-profit food banks might flood the area with free food to get rid of competition

  • Anon

    if this becomes too popular the large non-profit food banks might flood the area with free food to get rid of competition

    • Jin The Ninja

      since food banks don’t run on a capitalist business model, that is NOT the way it would work.

      food banks already give out “free” food.

      so what are really saying?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/WorldPeace-Shabazz-Archdeacon/100000658652449 WorldPeace Shabazz Archdeacon

    its a start…which is all you need for a trend

  • Barrera Ir
  • Barrera Ir
  • Anonymous

    i believe the start is anti-capitalism. anything less is not enough.

  • Anonymous

    since food banks don’t run on a capitalist business model, that is NOT the way it would work.

    food banks already give out “free” food.

    so what are really saying?!

  • neurolux

    This is good news for people who work at Panera. They’re finally able to afford the food they’re serving.

  • neurolux

    This is good news for people who work at Panera. They’re finally able to afford the food they’re serving.

  • Anonymous

    There’s a hare krshna restaurant where I live that’s been doing this for a few years. It’s a bit more upscale than your usual HK joint, in a riverside location which would cost a fair bit to rent. It’s all you can eat buffet too no less so they must be doing something right to still be around.

  • dumbsaint

    There’s a hare krshna restaurant where I live that’s been doing this for a few years. It’s a bit more upscale than your usual HK joint, in a riverside location which would cost a fair bit to rent. It’s all you can eat buffet too no less so they must be doing something right to still be around.

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