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Panera founder, CEO addresses hunger issues in Newton

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  October 9, 2013 03:06 PM

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Photo from Foundation for MetroWest

Ron Shaich, founder and CEO of Panera Bread, discusses hunger at a leadership breakfast in Newton last week. The event was organized and hosted by the Foundation for Metrowest.

The founder and CEO of Panera Bread spoke in Newton last week about the rise of his cafe franchise and his company's charitable undertaking at a leadership breakfast hosted by the Foundation for MetroWest.

Ron Shaich talked about the company's Panera Cares initiative, where select Panera cafes ask customers to pay what they can or make a suggested donation in lieu of ringing diners up at a cash register.

Shaich previously said he saw a television story about a cafe in Colorado that fed everyone at whatever price they could afford, which he said inspired him to find ways for Panera to address “food insecurity” in a way that went beyond providing excess supplies to food banks.

Panera opened one such location in Boston, at 3 Center Plaza, less than a year ago.

Shaich and Cumberland Farms president Ari Haseotes
Shaich also talked about how he took the challenge of living on $4.50 worth of food daily, a month-long goal called the "SNAP Challenge" to raise awareness for the 49 million Americans living on food stamps.

Foundation for MetroWest officials said that Shaich's message aligns with their own: the Natick-based nonproft seeks to increase food access, and last year distributed $85,500 to 39 food pantries throughout the region.

The breakfast, held at the Newton Marriott last Friday, also honored local philanthropists, Pat and Jim Poitras, for starting the Foundation for MetroWest.

For more information, visit the foundation's website.

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