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Innovating Philanthropy:Panera’s Social Experiment

Panera Bread visionary Ron Shaich has spent his career trying to change the way America eats by focusing on choice and a high quality, self-esteem-building experience. Since its founding, Panera has grown to 1600 bakery-cafes around the country, including its recent self-esteem-building experience, Panera Cares Community Cafes – non-profit cafes to address food insecurity.

Ron’s vision was to launch a “pay-what-you-can” cafe and see whether the community would support it. If the concept succeeded, the Panera Bread Foundation would have a platform to leverage all of Panera’s expertise and resources to fight food insecurity at scale.

Ron will share his passion for expanding the Panera Cares Community Cafe concept to make a difference in the world and how Panera is engaging offline communities, as well as social media and word-of-mouth, to fight food insecurity and ignite a social movement. As the concept continues to prove its success, it might be the best choice he’s ever made.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. How does a brand ignite a social movement?
  2. How can you use social media to drive consumer action and start a movement?
  3. How do you keep customers engaged both in online and offline channels?
  4. How do you create a company – and a customer base – that cares?
  5. Why is it important for other companies – and individuals – to step up and start making a difference in new ways?



Linn Parrish, Vice President, Public Relations, Panera Bread

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