Eat bread panera CEO in $4.50 per day: good for public health or just PR?

The problems of food insecurity and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-formerly known as food stamps) are very opportune.  September is hunger action month and the House just passed a bill that will reduce $39 billion of SNAP.  Recognizing this, I wanted to discuss the Panera Bread CEO.  Last week, Ron Shaich has embarked on a well publicized challenge feeding America SNAP.  His goal was to make shopping for meals, with the daily average per person ($4.50) benefit of SNAP to get an idea of the challenges faced by those who struggle to put food on the table.  Feeding America encourages participants in the challenge to share their experiences in order to raise awareness about "this critical nutrition program".  Ron wrote about his experience on his LinkedIn Blog September 9-20, 2013.

I think that your initial posts did a good job of outlining realistic goals:

(1) to help raise awareness of the issue [I'll stick with it - although all Pop health readers know that I hate the term "consciousness"] and (2) spark deeper talks about insecurity and possible solutions for food.
Ron also highlighted an important warning: the experiences of the week's challenge are not intended to provide a true representation of food insecurity in America.  He understands that the problem is much more complex.  In the course of the week, he discussed how changed their shopping habits and eat during the challenge.  For example, he visited a supermarket known for its low prices.  Also changed it to typical fresh products such as yogurt to "fill" foods such as grains.  It documented the physical and mental side effects of their diet altered such as fatigue, irritability and resentment.  Some of their main carry of the challenge were: (1) a week is not enough to truly understand food insecurity, (2) food dominates your thoughts when it is not readily available, (3) greater empathy for those who are struggling and (4) the importance of eliminating the trial and preconceived notions about people who are food insecure or require help from the SNAP program.
My thoughts: Challenge and blog posts did not reveal anything unexpected; However it is worth read your messages by Reader comments.  I'm always impressed with social media can apply for engagement and dialogue on public health issues.  While some readers were very supportive and applauded Ron for his efforts, others were quite critic-highlighting important limitations of your company.  For example, its simplicity.  Readers pointed out that it is not only of food insecurity.  It is the stress of home, food, work and transportation be unstable at the same time.  Also noted how easy that was for jumping in your car to visit a less expensive grocery store.  Families that are limited by transportation and geography do not have that option.   For me, this simplicity stood out in the juxtaposition of Ron SNAP challenge with many of the pictures that used to accompany your blog entries.  For example, the day #4 see Ron Cook your cheap food in a beautiful kitchen.  In the NPV days # see Ron to eat in their superbly equipped office and kitchen of the building.  Readers/commentators did a great job (better than Ron in my opinion) of the community and sociedad-nivel contribute to food insecurity.  They discussed the implications of the current minimum wage.  Discussed the families stuck "in the Middle"-not be suitable for SNAP, but do not make enough money for their families to eat.  They discussed the underemployed - working multiple part-time jobs for low wages without benefits.  They spoke of how our country's culture has changed - quotes examples of past generations when the employees were appreciated.  They discussed the high cost of food and the lack of healthy options for people living on a strict budget.  I was especially touched by the first comment in your post day #5.  The comment comes from a former worker of Panera, who left after four years because of the low wages that it rendered her unable to keep up.  She writes that "many of the employees of the shops that worked are food insecurity, as well as I".  While recognizing the philanthropic efforts of Panera, Ron asked "why not looking in your own kitchens for people who help also?"   I have also taken note of the selection of communication channels of rum.  He used their existing LinkedIn blog.  I hope to track down reliable data on the demographics of the users of LinkedIn (e.g., education and income levels) so you have a better sense of your target audience.  According to a Pew Internet study, only 20% of adults online use LinkedIn (from August 2012).  So it made me wonder: who could stay out of the conversation due to the location of the blog?  [* If any reader can share a source of reliable data on demographic data from LinkedIn users, that would be great!]As Ron aims to deeper conversations about food insecurity and sparkle solutions, time will tell if his company's stock will change as a result of this challenge SNAP.  I hope that they will build on existing efforts (such as Panera Cares) to help address food insecurity in the community, society and policy levels.
What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment