Sometimes you’ve just gotten paid and have dollars to spare; other times, you’re a buck or two short. Some are down on their luck for more than just a few days, while others want to help out their neighbors however they can. All of these can converge over a bacon turkey sandwich and a chai latte at Panera Bread – the chain already has several “Panera Cares” locations that work off a “pay what you want” model, but this week it announced plans to open even more across the United States.
Panera Cares’ sliding-scale model is actually ingenious, and quite similar to Jonathan Stark’s Get a Coffee, Give a Coffee experiment that made waves last year. How it works: Panera posts suggested prices for its sandwiches and café fare, but instead of a cash register, customers are free to pay as little or as much as they want to a cash donation box, no questions asked. The customers who give a little bit more balance out those who come up short, giving those who need a hand a warm and fresh-baked alternative to soup kitchens or other charity options. "My idea was that you should be able to eat a nutritious meal with the same dignity as everyone else, in the same place as everyone else,” Panera founder Ron Shaich told reporters when the model first launched. “It would let you hold your head up high, and rebuild a bit of your confidence."
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There are currently Panera Cares locations in St. Louis, Missouri; Portland, Oregon; and Dearborn, Michigan. This week Panera spokesperson Kate Antonacci told the press that the brand plans to open at least two (and maybe even three) Panera Cares locations by the end of the year. We’ll have to wait a little longer to find out where – the concrete details won’t be announced until Spring – but it’s a heartwarming concept, and we look forward to seeing it spread.
[SOURCE: Huffington Post]