Sweet on Panera Bread

SHAICHI’ve been to Panera Bread, a few times. And, although I grumble about the prices at the establishment, I can never argue about the quality. But as of last week, I’m in love with Panera. Ron Shaich, recently committed and completed a seven day SNAP challenge. If you can recall, Cory Booker, Newark’s Mayor recently completed a similar challenge; while documenting the experience.

Ron Shaich is a true force for good. I see him as someone truly concerned about solving some of the world’s problems. He’s using his platform to highlight a serious issue. So many people are faced with little to eat daily; and what’s shocking is that many go to work, live in your neighborhoods, and possible still struggle to survive. I think his decision to take this challenge couldn’t have come at a better time, especially while politicians bicker over a proposed budget. Their antics annually have left many people’s in limbo, but I digress.

As he documented his account, it left me baffled as to why he would do such a thing. At the same time, I was hopeful that his demonstration of selflessness would create some type response. What we got however, was a much needed conversation. People can not live on $4.50 a day in 2013. It’s damn-nearly impossible.

Ron ate this way for seven days, struggling with hunger pains, anxiety with food rationing, and how not to over-consume his portions. The stress played out in almost every facet of his life, including his relationship with his wife at home.

His concern for those that are less fortunate didn’t just begin with his recent hunger challenge. Panera’s response to the problem is the Panera Care’s, Community Cafes. It is a place where customers can pay according to no preset prices.

In a few days, I really have gained so much admiration for Mr. Shaich. He is the antithesis of the CEO of Chick fil a.

By the way, I’m no hater of Chick fil a. I just think that the CEO’s position is insensitive to gay people. And, although Chik-Fil-A gained a lot of customers by their announcement to stand against gay marriage, they perhaps lost just as great as many potential customers.

I really have to give him a thumbs up to being an unpstanding business man. To me, it’s a model in business that seems to have long been abandoned.

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