AS PART OF ITS “Living Consciously Volunteer Day,” Panera Bread/Howley Bread Group staff helped sort and box squash at the distribution center of its Feeding America partner, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. Pictured from left are: Holly Richie, regional training manager; Sheila Carpentier, human resources assistant; Louie Curran, manager; Carol Rodolewicz, associate; and Megan Herne, human resources recruiter.
CUMBERLAND – More than 50 Panera Bread staff from Rhode Island and Massachusetts recently participated in a “Living Consciously Volunteer Day” at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.
The seven Panera Bread bakery-cafes in Rhode Island are owned and operated by Panera Bread franchisee, Howley Bread Group LTD, based in Cumberland. They are located in the towns of Cranston, East Greenwich, Newport, Providence, Smithfield, Wakefield and Warwick.
The event was held to kick off the bakery-café partnership with Feeding America and celebrate September’s “Hunger Action Month.”
“The Panera /Howley Bread Group volunteers were extremely productive, boxing 16,000 pounds of squash, sorting hygiene products and packing boxes for distribution,” said Ed Cash, director of Warehousing and Logistics for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. “Having outstanding groups like Panera set some time aside to volunteer is invaluable to us as it helps keep our food production line moving.”
The food bank, a Feeding America member, receives all the funds collected through the ongoing Panera Cares Community Breadbox Program at the seven bakery-cafes in Rhode Island. The program gives customers the opportunity to donate money at the counter to support the food bank’s efforts to provide nutritious food to Rhode Islanders in need.
To further engage volunteers, the day included an overview of the food bank’s operations, insight on the growing issue of hunger and a primer on how to sort, back and box food for delivery to the food bank’s member agencies.
A USDA report on food insecurity shows that hunger in Rhode Island now affects one out of seven households. Each month more than 68,000 Rhode Islanders seek food assistance through the food bank's network of emergency food programs. Nearly one of every three persons served is a child under the age of 18.
Feeding America secures and supplies more than 2 billion pounds of nationally donated food and grocery products annually to its network of 200 food banks across the country. The Rhode Island Community Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, helps in solving the problem of hunger.