Get a free Panera bagel, coffee, or fountain drink - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Get a free Panera bagel, coffee, or fountain drink

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WATERLOO (KWWL) – With local food pantries seeing a 25 percent increase in visits this year, Panera Bread is expanding its financial partnership with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank by asking Cedar Valley residents to donate nonperishable food items at its Cedar Falls and Waterloo bakery-cafes during the first annual Hope to the Hungry holiday food drive. The food drive begins Friday, December 4, 2009 and runs until Wednesday, January 13, 2010. In exchange for a nonperishable food donation, customers will receive a free bagel, coffee or fountain drink.

Through its Operation Dough-Nation program, the Cedar Valley's two bakery-cafes are continuing their seven-and-a-half-year partnership with the Food Bank by providing continued in-kind and financial support. Since Panera's first local bakery-cafe opened in 2002, it has donated its daily unsold bakery products the Food Bank's Cedar Valley Food Pantry. Since 2004, Panera Bread has also asked its customers to donate their spare change to the Food Bank, which is in turn matched by Panera penny-for-penny.

The Northeast Iowa Food Bank provides nutritious food and grocery product, as well as hunger education, to over 200 nonprofit organizations who assist the hungry and individuals who need food assistance to sustain life. Last year the Food Bank distributed more than 5 million pounds of food within the 16-county service area through the Cedar Valley Food Pantry, located at the warehouse site in Waterloo and other food pantries throughout 16 counties; through various programs that service hungry children and senior citizens including Operation Family Pack, Kids Cafe, Elderly Nutrition Services, and other organizations who need the services of the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. The Food Bank is a member of Feeding America.

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