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Story by Larry Fitzpatrick - The Oregon Herald
Published on Wednesday January 12, 2011 - 10:11 AM
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PORTLAND, Oregon - On Sunday, January 16, a Panera Cares Cafe will open its doors at the existing 4143 Halsey Street Panera cafe in Northeast Portland. "The vision for the Panera Cares Cafe was to use Panera's unique restaurant skills to address real societal needs and make a direct impact in communities," said Ron Shaich, Panera Bread's co-founder and president of the Panera Bread Foundation. "Thus, the Foundation developed these community cafes to make a difference by addressing the food insecurity issues that affect millions of Americans."

This is the third non-profit "Panera Cares" cafe for the bread chain. The first is in Clayton, Mo., followed by one that opened Nov. 22, 2010, in Dearborn, Mich.

"Given the economic challenges in the Greater Detroit area, opening a Panera Cares Cafe in this area was a natural choice," said Shaich. "These cafes exist to make a difference by offering the Panera experience with dignity to all – those who can afford it, those who need a hand up, and everyone in between."

Come Sunday, Jan. 16, those walking into the Northeast Portland cafe next to Trader Joe's will no longer see prices or a cash register. Instead they'll see "suggested donation" levels and donation bins.

"People are encouraged to take what they need and donate their fair share," reports Panera. "At the end of the day, this cafe isn't about offering a hand out; it's about offering a hand up to those who need it," Panera reports. "The cafes also offer the option of volunteering an hour of time in exchange for a meal."

The Foundation will continue to accept contributions in donation boxes throughout the United States and its community cafes operating under the name Panera Cares.

"At the end of the day," Shaich said in his prepared statement, "this community cafe isn't about offering a hand out. It's about offering a hand up to those who need it."