Instead of Panera Bread’s unsold breads, bagels, muffins and pastries ending up in the trash at the end of the night, they are repurposed and donated to the on-campus Feed-A-Bull food pantry.
Feed-A-Bull provides food resources to those who can’t afford it. It supplies both nonperishable items as well as breads, protein options and even produce.
Currently, the bulk of these donations are coming from a newly formed partnership between Feed-A-Bull and Panera Bread in the Marshall Student Center (MSC).
The original partnership was between Einstein Bros. Bagels and Feed-A-Bull. After two years of paperwork and approvals, the pantry began accepting donations from the business twice a week.
After hearing the news that Panera Bread would be taking the spot of Einstein’s in the MSC last spring, Aramark Marketing Director Jessica Cicalese said she became hopeful for growth within the operation.
“[Students] shouldn’t have to worry about food because it’s such a necessity and an essential of life,” Cicalese said.
Panera Bread franchises all over the U.S. have initiated donating leftover bread and pastries to local organizations that focus on eradicating hunger, which is why Aramark and USF Dining Services saw an opportunity.
“With Panera Bread being on board, it’s going to help grow that awareness [surrounding food insecurity],” Cicalese said.
Since the switch from Einstein’s to Panera Bread, donations have doubled to four times a week, with fresh produce being donated twice weekly, according to Cicalese.
Together, Cicalese and Katie Jones, co-founder of Feed-A-Bull and registered dietitian for Student Health Services, have helped accumulate over 1,500 pounds of donated food.
Cicalese said the most rewarding thing about the process is being able to help students. Knowing that the initiative can sometimes be the deciding factor between whether or not a young person stays in school is what motivates her to continue working toward further expansion.
“Panera Bread was a step,” Cicalese said. “As other brands get on board, we can definitely see expansion in the future.”
Feed-A-Bull food pantry is located in SVC 0002 and is open to food-insecure students Monday and Thursday from 5-7 p.m., Tuesday from 9 a.m. – noon, and Wednesday from 1-4 p.m.