Order up! Surviving on $4.50 a day.

Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich is spending a week trying to feed himself on $4.50 a day. Shaich took the challenge to find out what it’s like to live on food stamps. He’s blogging about the experience on LinkedIn.

The challenge isn’t Shaich’s first attempt to raise hunger awareness. Last week, there was an article on the front page of The New York Times entitled, “On the Edge of Poverty, at the Center of a Debate on Food Stamps.” The article sheds light on the reality of food insecurity in America – millions of families that “look like we are fine,” according to one man, but in reality, “live on the edge of poverty, skipping meals and rationing food.”

Panera has developed into an American staple, you see one on almost every corner of the street. While this PR tactic is a great and clever way to bring awareness to a problem effecting Americans every day, I have to question whether Panera is the right organization to be addressing it in this manner. The reason why I have to question it, is because just the other day I went to Panera and $13.18 later I had my lunch; that is almost half of what Ron Shaich is allotted for an entire week of food!



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3 Responses to Order up! Surviving on $4.50 a day.

  1. student says:

    Let’s see how far Shaich takes this – if Panera Bread increases the amount of food that they donate to food pantries; if he personally donates millions to Feeding America or another reputable nonprofit, then I think it is a smart move for Panera to take from a public relations standpoint. Food insecurity is a HUGE issue and very few people are aware of it, so I’m glad he’s taking time to raise awareness of the issue. — Jill K.

  2. Rachel says:

    While I appreciate this CEO’s efforts in the same way I felt that the book “Nickel & Dimed” shed light on the complex issues of big-box corporations who pay their staff (barely-liveable) wages, I’m not sure he’s the person that should be doing this. As Jill said above, a Panera meal cannot be had for $4.50 and certainly, three meals a day cannot be had for that amount (at least, not at any short-order/fast-food establishments; groceries – a stretch, but perhaps?) Something here strikes me as a little “off,” although it won’t hold me back from eating at Panera – personally, I love the place!
    That said, I would like to point out that, contrary to the illusion, Panera does not have its restaurants practically on every corner. (I only wish!) Sadly, I reside in a town that “lost” its Panera Bread a mere three years after it opened. And not-so-coincidentally, the closure of Canandaigua’s Panera was timed almost exactly to the day that its tax abatements (ie: reductions for building and opening a new business) ran out. While I had enjoyed driving halfway cross town for a “you pick two” soup and sandwich for lunch, now, I have to drive across multiple towns, because the closest Panera is about 40 minutes away … in Penfield. I do love their food, but again, something about that kind of business move is a bit “off” to me.
    Certainly is food for thought …

  3. student says:

    Actually, I think Panera is the perfect company to address this – they have been for quite some time. For a long time, they operated several unique Panera stores with no prices – encouraging people to “pay what they could” with the goal of trying to make sure people could have a good meal even if they couldn’t afford it.