The Panera Bread Company is a café-style fast food restaurant that originated in the U.S. city of St. Louis, Missouri. Recently, the company made efforts to expand its success to help nonprofit organizations stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes donating unsold baked goods to hunger relief organizations and providing meals to children in Ohio. Not only does Panera Bread make a change domestically, but the company has also begun expanding its focus to ending world hunger globally.
In March 2021, the World Central Kitchen (WCK) announced a partnership with Panera Bread in order to increase public understanding of the hunger crisis during the pandemic. The head chefs of the two organizations, José Andrés and Claes Petersson, produced a unique sandwich for Panera Bread to sell to further raise awareness of the partnership. Not only did Panera Bread extend its resources and kitchens to supply base support for the WCK, but the restaurant chain also donated a portion of the profits made from each sandwich sold during two weeks in March to the WCK, generating approximately $100,000 for the organization. WCK used the donations to support its programs, providing meals to the impoverished and training aspiring chefs from Haiti to become professional chefs.
How WCK Uses Donations
Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, José Andrés began to rebuild more than 150 community kitchens in Guatemala and Haiti, which led to the creation of the WCK and then later, the development of chef training and farmer education programs. The WCK has partnered with more than 2,500 restaurants, including Panera Bread. The WCK has provided more than 36 million meals to the impoverished domestically; however, the WCK also uses donations to support its international programs.
For instance, the WCK has trained more than 700 cooks dedicated to feeding students in countries such as Guatemala, Haiti, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. Additionally, 40 students graduate from the Haitian WCK Port-au-Prince culinary arts school each year, pursuing professional careers as chefs in restaurants and hotels.
Furthermore, the WCK’s central goal for its Food Producer Network is to eliminate food insecurity and assist communities in strengthening their skills to combat future disasters that may lead to food insecurity. Operating in Puerto Rico and Guatemala, the network was created following Hurricane Maria and partners with small food businesses, such as farmers and fishermen, to advocate for sustainable food systems and the use of locally-grown foods.
Most food products originate from agricultural farming, including meat, fruit, vegetables, milk and sugar. To further strengthen farmers’ skills and reduce food insecurity, WCK launched a program in 2020 called Apiculture for Farmers. Based in Puerto Rico, the program educates farmers on how beekeeping assists in crop pollination and honey production.
Working Toward a Common Goal
Panera Bread’s donations served to assist WCK in feeding impoverished children in Guatemala, Haiti, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. Donations have also contributed toward training cooks, assisting aspiring chefs in graduating from the Port-au-Prince culinary school in Haiti, encouraging the consumption of locally-grown foods and educating farmers on the benefits of beekeeping.
Throughout 2020, WCK aimed to boost the restaurant industry to successfully solve community challenges, such as natural disasters and illnesses. Both Panera Bread and the World Central Kitchen operate under the same belief that delicious and fresh ingredients should be accessible to everyone, which motivates each organization to make a positive change in their community while eliminating food insecurity globally.
– Lauren Spiers