A number of local communities host food-shelf sites where people in need can get free groceries. Also, food drives abound, such as in collection bins in grocery stores and fundraisers sponsored by generous groups throughout the area. Churches and organizations such as the Salvation Army also do their part to reduce hunger.
Because you don’t see people living huddled under bridges doesn’t mean hunger and homelessness don’t exist around here.
Panera Bread’s initiative is clearly a product of the big heart of the people in charge. Companies such as Panera have to make a healthy profit; they can’t compromise on that. Publicly traded firms owe their first allegiance to their stockholders.
So, besides giving away unsold goods, a new trial arrangement is being introduced, to Panera’s credit. It will work if people able to pay don’t abuse the offer. Who knows — maybe some equally big-hearted patrons will pay more, in the spirit in which the policy was established.
We hope it works and that other national food chains consider similar efforts to help the homeless. Panera’s offer is a gutsy proposal and an ingenious precedent.