CHICAGO, IL and ST. LOUIS, MO - (Marketwire - Nov 8, 2012) - Panera Bread and the Panera Bread Foundation have joined with Feeding America to fight food insecurity in the United States - one bowl of soup at a time.
In a pilot effort launching today, Panera Bread and the Foundation have worked with the Company's suppliers to procure Panera soup to be donated to Feeding America, the nation's leading anti-hunger organization. Feeding America participating member food banks in over 75 U.S. markets will provide the same soup served in Panera's bakery-cafes to local food pantries, soup kitchens and other organizations serving those in need.
"Panera and the Foundation had been looking for a powerful ally who could combine forces with us to leverage our resources, expertise and scale to help make a dent in local hunger," said Ron Shaich, Founder, Chairman and co-CEO of Panera Bread and President of the Panera Bread Foundation. "We found that ally in Feeding America and are excited to begin this strategic alliance."
"We are extremely pleased to be working with Panera and the Panera Bread Foundation to support our mutual goals of providing nutritious food to those in need," said Matt Knott, interim president and chief executive officer of Feeding America. "Panera's bakery-cafes also provide an effective vehicle for us to raise greater awareness about the issue of domestic hunger."
Beginning immediately, participating Feeding America member food banks will be distributing over 700,000 servings of Panera's Low-Fat Vegetarian Black Bean Soup. The soup procurement and distribution program is supported by generous cash donations from Panera customers at participating locations through the Panera Cares Community Breadbox™ program which collects donations in the Company's bakery-cafes. For this soup program, half of donations received are used to help fund soup procurement. The other half of funds received is donated in the form of cash to support participating food banks in their efforts to provide quality, nutritious food. In addition, for every dollar customers donate to Panera Cares Community Breadboxes in Company-owned bakery-cafes, Panera Bread will match 10 percent to further support Feeding America's national hunger relief efforts, up to a $200,000 per year limit in 2013 (and pro-rated in 2012).
Panera's great-tasting Black Bean soup is high in fiber and is a good source of protein, Vitamin C and iron. One cup contains 170 calories with only 15 calories from fat. Panera and Feeding America also chose the Black Bean Soup because of its versatility -- it can easily be mixed with rice to form a complete protein-based entrée, which is often hard to come by for a person struggling with food insecurity.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one in six Americans and one in four children struggle with food insecurity (defined as limited or uncertain access to adequate food). Over the last 12 months, over 50 million Americans could not afford to buy food at one time or another; 17 million Americans were chronically forced to skip meals1.
"We're looking to have a real impact on the problem of food insecurity for the long term. By adding several of Panera's franchise groups to our soup procurement program next year, we will have more resources to add to those already being supplied by our Company-owned stores," Shaich said. "Simply put, that means that we will be able to expand our efforts with Feeding America to support even more of its network to help additional food-insecure neighbors in 2013."
This alliance and innovative programming represent another expansion of Panera's effort to address food insecurity in America. In fact, Panera Bread has been donating unsold bread and baked goods to local organizations for 25 years. Under its Day-End Dough-Nation™ program, last year Panera bakery-cafes collectively donated a retail value of approximately $100 million worth of unsold bread and baked goods to help neighbors in need.
In addition, in a ground-breaking move over two years ago, the Panera Bread Foundation opened its first Panera Cares® Community Cafe, a non-profit community cafe of shared responsibility. This cafe and three others like it across the country are designed to address the ever-growing problem of food insecurity by tapping into Panera's core competency of running restaurants and applying itself in a new way to make a difference. At Panera Cares community cafes, there are no prices or cash registers, only suggested donation amounts and donation bins. These cafes provide an uplifting, dignified dining experience for all...regardless of their means. Panera Cares community cafes also provide a forum for community members to step up and help their neighbors. A fifth community cafe is expected to open in early 2013.
"We are excited about joining forces with Panera and developing innovative initiatives that can make a meaningful difference with this issue facing so many people in our country," Feeding America's Knott concluded.
Panera Bread Company owns and franchises 1,625 bakery-cafes as of September 25, 2012, under the Panera Bread®, Saint Louis Bread Co.® and Paradise Bakery & Café® names. We feature high quality, reasonably priced food in a warm, inviting and comfortable environment. With our identity rooted in handcrafted, fresh-baked, artisan bread, we are committed to providing great tasting, quality food that people can trust. Nearly all of our bakery-cafes have a menu highlighted by antibiotic-free chicken, whole grain bread, and select organic and all-natural ingredients, with zero grams of artificial trans-fat per serving, which provide flavorful, wholesome offerings. Our menu includes a wide variety of year-round favorites complemented by new items introduced seasonally with the goal of creating new standards in everyday food choices. In neighborhoods across the United States and in Ontario, Canada, our customers enjoy our warm and welcoming environment featuring comfortable gathering areas, relaxing decor and free Internet access. Our bakery-cafes routinely donate bread and baked goods to community organizations in need. Additional information is available on our website, http://www.panerabread.com.
Panera Bread Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The Foundation accepts contributions through cash donations received in donation boxes located in Panera Bread company-owned bakery-cafes throughout the United States, as well as in connection with its community cafes operating under the name Panera Cares. The community cafes provide high quality food in a warm, inviting and comfortable environment. Panera Cares cafes exist to make a difference by offering the Panera Bread experience with dignity to all -- those who can afford it, those who need a hand up, and everyone in between. For more information on Panera Cares, visit www.paneracares.org
Feeding America provides low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive. As the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity, our network members supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors. Serving the entire United States, more than 200 member food banks support 61,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms. For more information on how you can fight hunger in your community and across the country, visit http://www.feedingamerica.org. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/FeedingAmerica or follow our news on Twitter at twitter.com/FeedingAmerica.
1 Coleman-Jensen, Alisha, Mark Nord, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson. Household Food Security in the United States in 2011. ERR-141, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, September 2012.