IRS is going after Panera Bread for its ‘non-profit’ communist cafés

Panera Bread Company exemplifies one of the stubborn attributes of the Left: They persist in advocating socialism/communism, in spite of the testimony from history that it doesn’t work.

Not only has socialism-communism wrecked entire economies, a contemporary example of which is Venzuela, there are the horrific human costs. Bearing silent witness are the bones of HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of those whom communist regimes had slaughtered in the 20th century.

But the Left insist that “they” didn’t do socialism/communism properly, and that “this time” they’ll make it work. As my erstwhile faux-socialist friend Stephanie so aptly put it many years ago: “I’ve made up my mind! Don’t confuse me with facts!”

“I’ve made up my mind. Don’t confuse me with facts!”

In November 2010 in a pious TED talk, Panera founder and then-CEO Ron Shaich announced the inception of Panera Cares — a chain of six nonprofit “community cafés” in Dearborn, Portland, Chicago, Boston, and St. Louis, which operate on a “pay-what-you-can” model “to help raise awareness about the very serious and pervasive problem of food insecurity (hunger) in the U.S.”.

Customers pay whatever amount they “can” for food, while others are encouraged to contribute their free labor and pay more (“donate”) in accordance with “suggested donation amounts” listed for all menu items “designed to help you understand the cost of ‘paying it forward’ and assisting those who struggle with food insecurity.”

In other words, the model of the Panera Cares community cafés is not even socialism. It’s communism — Karl Marx’s “To each according to his needs, from each according to his abilities”. In truth, the community cafés should more accurately be called “communist cafés”.

Overseeing the community cafés is the Panera Bread Foundation, an IRS-designated 501(c)(3) “private charity” launched in 2010 before Shaich’s TED talk, with the goal of helping the poor, providing education to at-risk youth, and promoting health and welfare.

Alas, human nature being what it is, although some people paid their “fair share” (whatever that means), many others simply took advantage of the communist “pay-what-you-can” model by paying little or nothing. The cafés reportedly were “mobbed” by students and homeless people looking for a free meal.

In February 15, 2019, Panera Cares closed its last communist café, in Boston. In an emailed statement, Panera Bread says: “Despite our commitment to this mission, it’s become clear that continued operation of the Boston Panera Cares is no longer viable.”

Now, the IRS is coming after the tax-exempt Panera Bread Foundation because, simply put, the “community cafés” didn’t do what they said they would do, i.e., feed people who couldn’t pay. A year after opening, because it was losing money, the supposed non-profit charitable “community café” in Portland began turning away those who couldn’t pay, banning students from visiting during school hours. The café even employed a “community outreach manager” to “gently usher out unwelcome diners” because, as Shaich told the Portland Tribune, “this is a cafe of shared responsibility and not a handout. It can’t serve as a shelter and we can’t have community organizations sending everybody down.”

Natasha Frost reports for Quartz, March 27, 2019, that according to a March 20 report on Law360 (which is viewable only if you register with a “professional” email address), the IRS has taken a closer look at this so-called nonprofit and says Panera owes a hefty tax bill going back to 2012 on annual revenues exceeding $7.5 million:

So far as the IRS is concerned, the cafés were primarily profit-making enterprises, rather than anything “inherently charitable.” (The fact that they closed because they weren’t making any money supports such a claim.)

Panera, in its defense, say it operated the cafés to literally feed the poor—what could be more charitable than that? In a slightly weaker line of argument, the company argues that it was providing “a valuable educational experience” by giving people of means the opportunity to “stand in line” with “individuals lacking means to purchase food.” These wealthier folk would “otherwise … rarely interact with someone who was hungry.”

To be deemed “publicly supported” by the IRS, organizations must take at least a third of their financial support from donations: Panera Cares Cafés’ public support made up close to 58%, the company said. It is not clear whether these were actually donations, in-kind donations of labor, or people simply paying above the sticker price on their lunch.

A 2018 article published in the Journal of Business Ethics seems to come down quite firmly on the side of the IRS. Academics Giana M. Eckhardt and Susan Dobscha [of the University of London and Bentley University] argue that Shaich was attempting to monetize people’s desire to “demonstrate their ‘goodness’ at the cash register,” by “paying more than the displayed price for their meal” and thus generate profit for the business. Though some people may indeed have wanted to signal their virtue, others were uncomfortable with a pricing system that put the onus on them —a rude awakening to a gift economy system that does expect people to behave selflessly.

In a further blow to Panera’s charitable aspirations, the experience of dining alongside the “food insecure” did not, as Panera’s filings suggested, facilitate interclass communication and mingling. Instead, Eckhardt and Dobscha found, wealthy people felt disdainful of their fellow diners; the homeless or poor, “rather than being empowered via a dignified dining experience,” felt ashamed or uncomfortable.

See also:

~Eowyn

Better than Drudge Report. Check out Whatfinger News, the Internet’s conservative frontpage founded by ex-military!

Please follow and like us:
error0
 

18
Leave a Reply

avatar
13 Comment authors
CalGirlchemtrailssuckAnonymousChristian ZionistAuntie Lulu Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
PvtCharlieSlate
Guest
PvtCharlieSlate

Remember: whenever the term “fair share” appears it always means “more”.

William
Member
William

Dear God, the sanctimonius virtue-signaling SJW-babble is too much. Thank you for reading it so we don’t have to. Socialism can “work” kinda, sorta, but only in specific controlled circumstances. You could make the case that Chavez in Venezuela brought the bottom tier up, providing medical care, literacy, computer literacy (the government used Linux so was attacked by Microsoft), other things as well, things they never would have had otherwise. It was a highly stratified society, the bottom tier being very low indeed. So to the poor Chavez was, as they said, an a**hole, but he’s our a**hole. And to… Read more »

William
Member
William

Food insecurity, my astrolabe. I ran a food bank and there is so much free food out there that most of it gets thrown out. And even when you hand it to the “food insecure” they have no use for fresh vegetables and fruit. They demand the two main food groups, fat and sugar. It’s their right

YouKnowWho
Guest
YouKnowWho

Let people pay (or not) what they want. What could possibly go wrong?

William
Member
William

Further reflection re: the nightmarish aspects of socialism: It used to be said, back in the day, before socialism was cool, that in the US people reach for the stars, but in the USSR they look over their shoulders

TrailDust
Admin

Guess where I saw this article first, Dr. Eowyn? On Whatfinger.com! Congratulations!!!

Dee Maerk
Guest

I do not agree with the owner of Panera’s pandering to the left. I have elected to stop patronizing his establishments. Thanks for the heads up.

Auntie Lulu
Guest
Auntie Lulu

Dee Maerk . . . You are right on the money! It is far better to “cripple business” that come up with these egregious ideas, than to reward them. Although, I RARELY IF EVER can find anything positive to say about the IRS . . . I found that this prosecution just warmed the cockles of my heart. To the IRS . . . I say, “You go guys!”

LeavingCASoon
Guest
LeavingCASoon

I will avoid Panera, never will I go there again. Intentionally abusing your normal paying regular customers, forcing them to mix with Vagrants and Criminals is shameful. How would your wife feel if you invited these vagrants in your home and “Mixed” with your kids? This model of allowing non paying urine smelling drug addicts into “normal peoples space” will soon find yourself being out of business. Like Starbucks, inviting the dirty vagrant psychos in, many locations had to close. The EBT cards, and free food offered by food banks, no one is going hungry. Thats’ a BIG lie. The… Read more »

Lophatt
Member
Lophatt

The whole restaurant looks like the restroom at Starbucks.

CalGirl
Guest
CalGirl

I don’t go to Panera (or many places to “eat out” b/c I pack my lunch, eat out of my pantry at home for dinner, etc—when I’m HOME for the evening or weekend…I just want to be HOME). So, I don’t know to what you refer “vagrant psychos” and “EBT cards.” I’m guessing that you mean, they have a business practice that attracts such? I do know that my school is 80% or more Federal free breakfast and lunch and that Panera has a program where, each Monday, they send a small truckload of all kinds of bread to our… Read more »

Lophatt
Member
Lophatt

Well, to me it really isn’t a charity. My suspicion is that they make money and that’s why they do it. I just don’t like the marketing ploy of trying to say that those who eat there are somehow more holy than those who don’t. I contribute to food banks and help deliver fire wood and food, sometimes toys through Church. I help out serving the homeless. To me that’s my obligation as a Christian. It isn’t done to impress anybody or as a “business”. We are simply trying to follow Christ’s directive to feed and cloth the poor.

Lophatt
Member
Lophatt

“But the Left insist that “they” didn’t do socialism/communism properly, and that “this time” they’ll make it work.” You’ve just defined “insanity”. Doing something over and over with a bad result in the hope that you’ll somehow get a different outcome.

Basically, they wish they could be children forever with a Mommy and Daddy who worked to take care of their every need. They’d never have to grow up or go to school or get a job. Wouldn’t that be great?

Robert Cat
Guest
Robert Cat

Another example of how communism/socialism fail. These ideologies don’t take into account human nature.

Auntie Lulu
Guest
Auntie Lulu

Robert Cat . . . . That is exactly why these “examples of communism/socialism” are so dangerous. They will always fail, no matter how many times you try it over, and over, and over, again.

Christian Zionist
Guest

Oh yes, they keep thinking their form of communism/socialism will work, I’m glad they found out it was a massive failure…duh!

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

They used a 501c3 but it was clearly for profit. A food charity does not turn those in need away. Adding that to my list of companies I do not patronize. Also someone should make a list of who talks at TED and boycott them all. TED is garbage, cult like. Like EST in the 80’s.

chemtrailssuck
Guest
chemtrailssuck

Another so called socialist do-gooder experiment bites the dust, and bites Panera in the butt since they’re getting audited, ha ha ha!
I’d tell the people I know about this, but they’re all set in their ways and forget educating them about anything! Even the so called “religious” one who still uses Netflix, never mind telling them about the satanic agenda and their blasphemous programs….