In an attempt to raise awareness about hunger in the United States, Panera Bread Co. (PNRA) CEO Ron Shiach is living off of $4.50 a day and blogging his experience.
“For one week, beginning Saturday, September 14, 2013, I will live on just $4.50 a day, the average daily benefit per person provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly known as Food Stamps),” said Sciach.
According to a recent New York Times article, 49 million people are categorized as “food insecure”, or as Sciach simply put, hungry. 48 million people in the United States are supported by food stamps, while an estimated 16 million children go to bed hungry.
While Sciach has spent many hours studying the issue of hunger, he himself has never personally experienced it. That is until now.
Since the "SNAP Challenge" began on September 14, the CEO has been updating his experience on Linkedin Corporation (LNKD) .
When grocery shopping on a weekly budget of $31.50, to his surprise Shiach has found he cannot afford common items such as milk, fruits, coffee, or yogurt. His diet mostly consists of cereal without milk, pasta, and dry chickpeas.
On the third day of the Snap Challenge, Schiach wrote that he felt “bloated and weak” due to the carbohydrate-heavy diet. In addition, he noted that he had a hard time focusing throughout the day.
The challenge is also taking a toll on Sciach mentally. By the fourth day he stated that his mind is constantly “consumed by food.” He cited an instance where he lashed out at this wife for over-portioning his pasta at dinner because of his anxiety over running out of food.
Sciach experience with hunger lasts one week, but he realizes that for many others it is a real and on-going struggle.
“To be clear, I don’t mean to trivialize anyone else’s experience or claim mine as an authentic representation of what food insecurity looks like," Shiach said. “Rather, my hope is to inspire other leaders – in business, government and the nonprofit world – to take on the challenge of food insecurity as their own.”
Through this experience Sciach hopes that he himself will be inspired to figure out new solutions to the problem of hunger. Sciach also initiated Panera Cares in 2010, which provides a collection of cafes that offer free food to those in need.