Panera CEO Is Eating on $4.50 a Day for a Week
Ron Shaich says he can't stop thinking about food
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2013 9:12 AM CDT
In this May, 2002 file photo Panera Bread Co. CEO Ron Shaich stands behind a counter in a St. Louis cafe.   (AP Photo/Tom Gannam, File)

(Newser) – Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich is very hungry. "I can't stop thinking about food," he wrote on his LinkedIn blog yesterday. That's because he was on day 4 of a weeklong challenge to eat on just $4.50 per day. He's doing it to raise awareness of how people on food stamps live: That's how much a person on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program receives, Shaich explains. His SNAP Challenge comes during Hunger Action Month—and it also comes as the House is set to discuss, this week, a proposal that could see SNAP funding cut by $40 billion over the next 10 years, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Shaich did all his shopping for the week on a $31.50 budget. He's trying to eat as healthily as possible, but was forced to rely on carb-heavy foods and couldn't afford many fruits and vegetables, he writes. By yesterday, his thoughts were "consumed by food," he continues. "When is my next meal? How much food is left in my cabinet? Will it get me through the week? What should I spend my remaining few dollars on? What would I eat if I had no budget at all?" Joining Shaich in the challenge is Feeding America CEO Bob Aiken. Cory Booker undertook a similar challenge last year, spending just $29.78 for a week's worth of food.

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Sep 24, 2013 6:00 PM CDT
For those who believe the CEO of Panera Bread should forgo his $4 million+ salary for the sake of his minimum wage employees, consider the following: 20,800 employees. Creating a hypothetical situation, let's say that 90% of them earn minimum wage, or at least a low wage. His entire salary could give that 18,720 employees a raise of about 10 cents per hour, assuming they didn't work over 40 hours. Facts are something aren't they?
Sep 21, 2013 9:37 PM CDT
There are some things about this story that may not seem quite obvious to all. Ron Shaich says, "he can't stop thinking about food". One can easily imagine that he's used to eating as much as he wants, so that's not necessarily surprising. However, just taking up a challenge to eat on $4.50 a day isn't the last word in this either. Since he's not used to this regimen, he isn't in any position to optimize his diet under it. There is an "economy of scale" that comes with a $4.50 per day diet that he's unlikely to recognize. I made a couple of posts here a couple days ago that my allowance for food is around $7.00 a day in my life. Being recently retired and feeling up to the challenge, I decided to try this idea out for a while and see just how difficult or impossible it might be. I've crunched the numbers and planned a number of meals and begun. I can say right now with 100% certainty that I can get along just fine on $4.50 a day for food. It will require self discipline, careful planning, portion control. There'll be no room for eating out or for much frivolity but I can keep myself alive and healthy on such a diet. I'm absolutely certain that many, perhaps most overweight American's exceed reasonable portion control and eat without regard for anything other than taste and stomach bulk. I'm going to do this for a while and keep a diary and see how it may ultimately affect my eating habits, long term. This should be interesting.
Sep 21, 2013 7:42 PM CDT
The fact that the republican House has cut $40 billion from food stamps that applies to 3.8 million people is one of the most un-Christian things republicans have done. Most food stamps go to children and the elderly and not to slackers like you fox watchers are determined to believe.