While they're known for their freshly baked goods, Panera Bread's community service and charity involvement is a key part of their core values. The chain of enticing sandwich and soup cafes have perfected the art of fast-casual dining, and in recent years, have been channeling their efforts toward a new, equally important purpose: enriching the lives of their customers. Rather than accomplishing this one meal at a time, or with each individual dining experience, Panera strives to benefit the lifestyles of their customers in myriad ways. Whether it’s reaching out to the community, providing thorough, detailed nutritional information, working to understand the daily struggles faced by those living with food insecurity (more commonly known as hunger), or simply encouraging their consumers to lead active, healthy, and fulfilling lives, Panera Bread works to incorporate messages of strength, positivity, and perseverance into everything it does.
As part of Panera’s commitment to “sharing responsibility, and making a difference in the world,” they launched the Panera Cares Community Cafes. These nonprofit locations function slightly differently from the typical Panera, as guests are given the opportunity to (a) pay a suggested donation amount for their meal, (b) pay only what they are able to, as means are so often limited, or (c) donate an hour of their time to volunteer at the café in exchange for the meal. The goal of the Panera Cares Community Cafes is to help support local communities and allow customers to enjoy the bakery experience, with dignity. Non-judgmental and low-pressure, Panera Cares simply seeks to “help uplift those who are struggling with food insecurity,” wherever possible.
Furthermore, for two decades Panera Bread has quietly donated unsold bread and baked goods to charities and hunger relief agencies. What initially began as a thoughtful “Dough-Nation” program evolved over time, and has come to include four main divisions that range from fresh bread donations and cash collections to participation in and fundraising for community events. It is estimated that $100 million worth of bakery items is contributed to organizations in need by their local Panera every year.
No service is too small or too large for Panera Bread. For instance, in order to provide the most welcoming environment for customers, Panera proudly offers free Wi-Fi at every one of its many nationwide locations. After being the top provider of free Wi-Fi in the United States in 2006 and 2007, currently, the restaurant and café is well-known for still being one of the largest free Wi-Fi providers in the US. Additionally, the café has worked to formulate healthier menu items and designate the more health-conscious choices a customer can make for lunch. Panera’s free “Lose It!” app encourages guests to track their health & fitness progress and stay motivated throughout the year, all while offering “rewards, surprises, and chances to win” gifts from Panera. Setting realistic goals, rewarding successes, and assisting customers in exploring the wide range of healthy eating options available to them has helped promote the 2014 mission of “power your day, [and] power your year.”
Whether customers are seeking a freshly baked treat to accompany hot, brewed coffee, need a place to meet friends over tasty soups served in delicious bread bowls, want a cozy place to study, or looking for a creative, healthy take on office catering (for all occasions), they’ll find it at their neighborhood Panera Bread. For more information on the top fast-casual sandwich chain in the U.S., contact your local café today!