Panera Does Away With Pay-What-You-Can Program

After testing a pay-what-you-can option at 48 locations, this week Panera announced it is discontinuing the program.

Photo Credit; Fox News“The Meal of Shared Responsibility” initiative allowed visitors at the St. Louis locations to pay what they felt they could contribute in exchange for turkey chili in a bread bowl. After months of testing, 60% of customers were paying the suggested price, 15-20% were leaving more, and 15-20% were leaving significantly less or nothing, says Panera’s Director of Societal Impact Initiatives Kate Antonacci.

But the decision to stop serving the pay-what-you-can meal is not necessarily a financial one, says Antonacci.

“To us, it’s about: Is this the best way to have an impact? Is it feeding people?” says Antonacci. “We want to raise the level of awareness of food insecurity and provide a vehicle for people to help one another, step up and take responsibility.”

After six weeks of marketing the meal in stores, Antonacci says signs were taken down to promote other meal options, and conversation about the “Meal of Shared Responsibility” dropped off significantly.  READ MORE