WILKES-BARRE — With the destruction of Panera Bread in Wilkes-Barre Township after last week’s tornado, it’s not only customers who are missing the restaurant: Local non-profits are feeling its absence as well.
Panera restaurants around the country participate in a program called the Day-End Dough-Nation. According to the company’s website, the bakeries package unsold baked goods and donate them to local charitable organizations.
Here in the Wilkes-Barre area, one of the non-profits that benefited most from the donation program was Manna House.
Operated by Volunteers of America, Manna House is a non-profit aimed at decreasing homelessness by providing transitional housing to homeless young adults.
According to Jackie Tona, program supervisor at Manna House, pickings have been slim since Panera was ravaged by the EF2 twister.
“We have less to choose from in our food pantry,” Tona said. “We have a lot fewer bagels to make sandwiches with, things like that.”
Tona said that the food pantry at the Manna House also supplies other Volunteers of America programs, such as Ruth’s Place, with the donated baked goods, which arrived weekly.
“The donations we got from Panera were pretty valuable,” she said. “We received a large donation every Thursday.”
Currently, the state of the Wilkes-Barre Township Panera is unclear; Panera’s corporate offices did not immediately respond to a request for comments regarding the future of the business.
Without Panera to donate, Tona said the Manna House will begin reaching out to other local businesses to see if they would be interested in donating.
Until then, though, she said that those interested can always donate, either by emailing her at [email protected], or by calling the Manna House at 570-825-5261.
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan