Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Local business on the right track

When I worked at an Old Country Buffet/ Home Town Buffet, more than 10 years ago, I remember cleaning up after we closed the restaurant and I was going through the kitchen.  At the end of a busy night, if we had a pot full of soup, we just threw it away.  Down the drain it went!  I remember overhearing an older man ask the general manager one evening, as she was still inside and finishing her food, "do you give your unused soups to local soup kitchens?"  It seemed like a reasonable suggestion.  I think every night we threw away gallons upon gallons of soup.  The soup would have been enough, each night, to give at least 20 - 30 people a full bowl of hot soup.  So, every night, we threw away enough soup, not to mention other food, to feed a lot of hungry people.  Now, my general manager responded to this man, "We don't give our soups away because they are confidential and company recipes and we don't want other people to find out what they are."

So, the reason that my manager stated for not giving away the food to hungry people who could actually use it, was that he was afraid that people, most likely these same people who haven't eaten a filling meal all day and have their first portion of food for the day, are going to sneak away a bowl of food and devise the secret ingredients so they can repeat and see a recipe to someone else?  I doubt it.  It made me disgusted to work there, even when I was sentenced to work in the dish room after hours and help.  I watched hotel pan after hotel pan of food, get thrown away, all because of company policy.  As if their secret recipe of making chicken soup from concentrated chicken base flavoring and water was so secret that just by me mentioning it will have me sentenced to death.

The good news is, that a St. Louis company does give away their food.

Panera Bread, is doing something new, to me at least.  I was told be an employee that they give away their unused bread, every night to food shelters.  That is great.  Having a bakery which probably makes at least 100 loaves of fresh bread a day and then gives that food away to someone who can use it is admirable.  Now, what they have recently started, is just, if not, better.
So, occasionally, they will pick a new menu item to be featured this way.  Then, you as a regular consumer can either pay the suggested amount or pay more than the suggest amount.  Now, the extra money would then be used to help off-set the loss, when someone who comes in and cannot afford to eat it.  In this fashion, Panera does something that no other restaurant does: accepts homeless people, or whatever is the proper PC term.  People who cannot afford to eat a bowl of turkey chili, at Panera, will get a bowl with whatever money they can scrap together.  So, if the guy comes in with 30 cents in his pocket and he has been living behind the dumpster outside for 3 weeks and he wants a bowl of chili, he can have a bowl of chili.  Now, whether he can sit inside and eat it or he has to take it to go, are still unanswered.  But, the idea is brilliant and will throw Panera into the humanitarian company of the year race.

So, the next time you are looking to be a little more helpful and you feel like spending a bit extra to help your community, I suggest you give a little extra so you can help Panera help out.

1 comment:

  1. Wow what a great article..i am a writer too but i am still looking for a better job..

    local business pittsburgh