ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Diners short on cash can now take advantage of a new Panera Bread cafe program, which allows customers to pay for one of its menu items on a pay-what-you-can basis. The program is available at 48 restaurants across St. Louis, Mo.
Coined as a “Meal of Shared Responsibility,” the hearty turkey chili in a bread bowl has a suggested price of $5.89, but diners can pay whatever they choose, allowing them access to a meal rich in nutrients. Customers who can pay more than the suggested price are helping to offset the cost for diners who can’t afford it, and the balance is donated to local hunger initiatives. Customers can also donate to the program regardless of which item they order from the menu.
“We hope the suggested donations offset those who, say, they only have three bucks in their pocket or leave nothing,” said Ron Shaich, founder, chairman and co-CEO of the chain, and president of the Panera Bread Foundation told The Huffington Post.
If the experiment is successful in St. Louis, the program could be expanded to the chain’s 1,600 bakery-cafes across the U.S.