Panera recently opened up its fifth Panera Cares location at 3 Center Plaza near Government Center. With four other locations, Panera Cares is a non-profit community café that offers food at a pay what you can price. The goal of all Panera Cares cafés are to ensure that no one has to go a day without a meal, with hopes of raising food insecurity awareness.
Inside of Panera Cares Community Cafés, there are no cash registers at the ordering stations, just donation boxes. When a customer is done ordering, the cashier gives a suggested donation price. The customer then has the option to pay that, less or more. Panera Cares asks those who are unable to pay anything for their meal for their time. An hour of table washing or floor sweeping will result in a café meal voucher. Some people may question whether or not people will do the right thing when dining at a Panera Cares location, but the Boston Globe reported that the Government Center location had a strong opening, “pulling in 109 percent of the retail value of the food it sold”.
With such a great organization and mission, one would think that Panera Cares would be excessively shown through social media. This is not the case. Currently, Panera is not running designated social media platforms for Panera Cares. They are marketing directly from the Panera platforms. I don’t think that Panera has done enough advertising to get the word out about this non-profit organization. I wouldn’t have known about it if I wasn’t watching the news one evening, and a lot of people in my classes have never heard anything about it.
Going through their timeline in January on Facebook, I only came across two posts about Panera Cares. On their twitter, there was only one tweet about the location for the whole month of January. However, Panera does an excellent job portraying everything about Panera Cares on its website. The Panera Cares website features their mission, locations and even stories of people that Panera Cares has helped. With this specific location being in a heavily populated college area, Panera should create its own platforms for Panera Cares. Most college students, and even high school students turn to social media for their news. I believe it would be a great benefit for Panera to do this, because it would increase their brand awareness as well as increase their volunteers and donations.
This specific location currently employs about 40 people including managers, but is always looking for helpful volunteers. Visit the café to find out how you can help.
Written by marketing intern Lisa Cabral, public relations major at Suffolk University