Monday, April 22, 2013

Shared Responsibility

About a month ago all the St. Louis Bread Company cafes introduced a new concept--the "Meal of Shared Responsibility".  When you order their turkey chili in a sourdough bread bowl there's no set price; you decide how much you want to pay for it.  If you're feeling flush or want to do a good deed you pay more.  If you're hungry and have no money, you can still eat.

This isn't the company's first attempt at no-price menus.  There are several Panera Cares (Bread Company is known as Panera everywhere else) cafes throughout the country, where everything is "pay what you want".  One of them is in a suburb of St. Louis; it's not particularly convenient to me and I've never been there. But there are over 100 Bread Company locations, which makes it easy for everyone who wants to participate.  Tonight I did.

Hubby Tony wasn't going to be home for dinner, so after work I took a walk and ran a couple of errands before I stopped by the Bread Company a couple of miles from my house.  When I placed my order, instead of telling my how much my bill was the associate asked my how much I wanted to pay.  The suggested price is $5.89.  When I checked my wallet I had plenty of money, so I gave her a little more than that.

Just like any of the Panera lunch and dinner items, this meal comes with a side-a piece of baguette, a bag of chips, or an apple.  I chose the apple, and asked for my food to go.  If I'd eaten in the cafe, the kitchen would have poured my chili directly into a small hollowed out loaf of bread. For carryout, they wrapped the bread in paper, put the chili into a container with a lid, and slid everything into a bag. I opened the container, found the spoon in the bag, and took my first bite of chili.

YUM-O!  The chili had chunks of ground turkey and three kinds of beans (garbanzo, kidney, and edamame).  I also saw pieces of tomatoes, carrots, corn, and onions.  I tore pieces of bread off the bowl and dunked them in the savory chili sauce.  The bowl was more bread than I normally consume, so I told myself I was only going to eat part of it, but when I was done there was nothing left but crumbs.  I was full, so I saved the apple for tomorrow.

According to the company, the 850-calorie meal  is very healthy.  It contains 56 percent of the recommended daily value of fiber and 34 percent of recommended daily protein.  If this was the only food someone was going to eat in a day they'd be getting a good portion of their daily nutrition.

Five years ago today: New Thing #102-- No Idolatry


  1. A concept like that wouldn't work in my area, it's too much of a big city. It must be nice in St. Louis. Wonderful concept though. I have to visit Panera Bread here, I got an email saying there is a surprise loaded onto my points card.

    1. There are "pay what you want" cafes in Boston and Chicago (which I consider big cities) along with St Louis, Portland Oregon, and Dearborn, Michigan.

      Enjoy your surprise!

  2. This is a wonderful concept, I've never heard of it before. Sounds like a delicious lunch and if I were to eat this that would be it for my daily consumption of calories! Well maybe a banana as well for good measure.

    I think for something like this to work here in my city without going bankrupt it would have to be open in the burbs, as nice as it would be to be able to feed everyone it seems those who can't afford to pay for a meal are in the downtown core.

    Have a wonderful weekend Kathy!

    1. The "pay what you want" cafe in the area is in Clayton, the county seat; there are lots of office buildings (which is where the people who can pay the bill, or more) come from. The county jail and courthouses are also there, which I suspect draws a fair number of people who are down on their luck.

      As far as the shared responsibility meal--there are more than 100 Bread Companies in the metropolitan area, so they're able to draw from a wide variety of people

  3. I think I saw something like this in the news a long time ago. It's such a wonderful concept if it can work. I'm glad you were able to try something new.