• What is Panera Cares®?

    Panera Cares is a community cafe created, very simply, to make a difference. We are a nonprofit community cafe concept of shared responsibility operated by the Panera Bread Foundation, a Section 501(c)(3) public charity. Panera Cares is designed to help raise awareness about the very serious and pervasive problem of food insecurity (hunger) in the U.S. Consider this: According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 15.6 million households – including 3.1 million households with children – are food insecure. That means that 1 in 8 households have difficulty providing enough food for all their members at some time during the year.

  • How does this cafe work?

    Panera Cares operates on a pay-what-you-can model and depends on your donations and support to ensure our sustainability. Panera Cares provides suggested donation amounts for all menu items to help you understand the cost of “paying it forward” and assisting those who struggle with food insecurity.

    -The suggested donation listed on the menu panel is the retail value of the meal. It reflects the amount we need to cover operating expenses while also covering the cost of the meals for those who come in to our cafes and are unable to contribute for their meal. We ask that those who are able contribute that amount do so.

    -For guests who cannot meet our suggested donation amount or donate their fair share, we ask that they limit themselves to one entrée and a beverage per week. This limitation helps enable us to continue to serve the community.

    -If you are unable to contribute for your meal, you may earn a meal voucher by volunteering for 1 hour per week in our community cafe. We are not designed to be a permanent solution for those facing food insecurity, so if you are in need of additional services, please visit our resource area for more information.

    -We also ask that, as a general matter, meals provided to those who cannot contribute the full suggested donation amount are consumed in the community cafe as a means of building community.

  • Where does the money go?

    A goal of the Panera Cares community cafe concept is to be self-sustaining – meaning that the cafe generates enough donations to cover operating costs while also covering the cost of the meals for those who come in and are unable to contribute the suggested donation amount for their meals. Another goal is to leverage other resources and available competencies (space, people, time) to make an even bigger impact in the communities in which we operate. One way we have done this is through the creation of direct programming, such as job training programs with local schools and other non-profit organizations.

  • What is the volunteer option?

    We realize that many people want to contribute to our cause even if they are unable to do so monetarily, so we created an alternative way for people to give and become part of our community. If a guest is unable to leave a monetary contribution, we may, in some instances, offer the option of volunteering one hour of time working in our cafes in exchange for a meal. This allows increased participation in the responsibility of operating the cafe.

  • What does ‘suggested donation’ mean?

    We list suggested donation amounts on our menu boards to give guests an idea of what the food would be priced at a Panera Bread® bakery cafe location. The suggested donation amount is the retail value of the meal and conveys to our guests what the food is worth.

  • Can I leave my donation with a credit card?

    Yes, the associate taking your order will tell you your suggested donation amount and you are able to use a credit card to leave a donation. You may leave the suggested amount or more if you are able and would like to help share a meal with someone else today.

  • Why do I have to donate more?

    You do not have to donate more. We simply ask that you leave what you can to support our work. If you’re able to contribute a bit more, know that that will help feed those who come in to these community cafes and are unable to donate the full suggested donation for their food.

  • Is there sales tax?

    No. There is no sales tax applied to guest donations.

  • Does Panera Cares offer free Wi-Fi?

    Yes. Panera Cares community cafe should feel much the same as any Panera Bread® bakery cafe and free WiFi is still part of the experience.