This autumn I had the pleasure of listening to Panera Bread CEO Ronald Saich speak about his Panera Cares initiative. As a business in the food industry, his company gave away fresh baked goods daily. Even though he was making huge in-kind donations to food banks and shelters, he felt disconnected from really making a difference.
Because he “goes to work to learn” (me too!), he thought about how he and his 8,000 employees could make a significant difference. He wanted to utilize and leverage his company’s strengths in service of others. He also wanted to raise awareness about food insecurity in the U.S., so he researched community cafes that fed the hungry. He also worked in food pantries, and experienced them as a customer – which he described as very powerful.