ST. LOUIS — At the end of the night, every Panera Bread bakery-cafe donates its unsold bread and bakery products to help feed people in need through the Day-End Dough-Nation program. Rather than relegate unsold bread, bagels, muffins and pastries to a dumpster, employees box them up for local non-profit organizations.

The bakery-cafe chain partners with Food Pantries, Homeless Shelters, Low-Income Elderly Services, Disability Homes, Domestic Violence Shelters, At-Risk Youth Programs, Immigrant/Refugee Assistance Services and many more as part of this program. In an average year, Panera cafes serve more than 3,500 local non-profits through the program and each night unsold bread and bakery products support non-profit partners feeding neighbors in need.

Once a local soup kitchen, for instance, is approved to receive Day-End Dough-Nation baked foods, it sends a volunteer to Panera after closing time for a weekly pick up. The following day, the soup kitchen will serve the donated bread and pastries alongside the meals it gives its clients in need. Some large food distribution agencies pick up donations every night. Most groups, however, participate just once or twice a week.

In 2021, Panera Bread bakery-cafes will have donated approximately $100 million in unsold bread and bakery products to people in need across the country through the Day-End Dough-Nation program.

“Some other companies may sell their day-old products the next day at a discount,” said Udo Freyhofer, Florida manager. “We don’t. I feel good about having fresh items available for our customers while helping out those in need in our community.”