Welcome to our March Issue!

Dear Sprout Readers,

In celebration of National Nutrition Month, check out our March issue. Inside, Katie Fesler examines weight loss myths. Might Weight Watchers become a chain of nationally anti-obesity clinics with doctor referrals and insurance reimbursements? Brandon Ransom reports on a recent speech by the CEO of Weight Watchers. The March issue also showcases a novel example of how traditional for-profit companies such as Panera can help distribute foods to those struggling to pay for them.

If you are staying in Boston for spring break, we have some fun outdoor activities for you. When you get super hungry from all the activities, you might want to check out a Ramen eatery in Porter Square famous for its extra-large servings or make your own, healthier St. Patrick’s Day meal at home. If you are traveling, Kate Hebel recommends some books that will fascinate Friedman students. And when you have a bit of free time, test a chocolate avocado mousse recipe that will boost your brain power.

Finally, check out our calendar of so you won’t miss any of the exciting upcoming events at Friedman. There’s a lot of interesting articles in our March issue, and reading them will be a welcomed study break from your mid-term preparation.

Happy reading!

Your editors,

Natalie Obermeyer & M.E. Malone

The Friedman Sprout

NEJM takes on weight loss myths by Katie Fesler: Are the beliefs we hold about weight loss truly evidence-based? Read about what beliefs may actually be closer to myths.

Spring Break Friedman Style: Ways to Stay Active in Boston by Sheryl Lynn Carvajal: March is here, and that means Spring Break is right around the corner! If you’re not headed somewhere exotic and tropical, here are plenty of ways to get your fitness fix here in Boston.

More spring break ideas: books! by Kate Hebel: If you have an urge to curl up with a nice, filling book, here’s a list of Friedman favorites.

Streamlining health care: Is Weight Watchers a fix for the obesity crisis? by Brandon Ransom. The CEO of Weight Watchers puts an intriguing proposal on the table.

Boost your brain power with pudding by Natalie Obermeyer: In honor of Brain Awareness Week, boost your brain power with avocados and cocoa in this rich and creamy chocolate delight.

A caring experiment to help the hungry by M.E. Malone: This growing national restaurant chain extends a novel social experiment to Boston with a new Panera Cares cafe. Instead of pay-as-you-go, it’s pay-what-you-want.

Student Spotlight: Jumbo’s Kitchen by Kate Hebel: Now what could be better than kids? And cooking? Yup. Cooking with kids. See what your classmates are doing to to share their kitchen and nutrition skills with young enthusiasts.

What is beer-infused and green all over? A St. Patrick’s Day dish, of course! by Amy Elvidge: Try out these Irish-ly delicious and Friedman-ly nutritious St. Patrick’s Day themed recipes this year.

Yume Wo Katare: Not your sobo’s ramen by Mimi DelGizzi: New (tiny) ramen place in Porter Square serves up a long wait and ramen by the pound.

Alumni Spotlight: Meet Hilde Steffey by Kari Kempf: A Friedman alum works hard to help farmers stay on their land.

What’s going on at Friedman in March: We offer a new calendar of events for the upcoming month. Feel free to email event ideas to friedmansprout@gmail.com

Advertisements

NEJM takes on weight loss myths

By Katie Fesler

There is a set of beliefs around the origin, nature, and treatment of obesity and weight loss that guides the thinking, research, policy making, and counseling of both nutrition professionals and the public. These pervasive beliefs are generally accepted as evidence-based.  But do they hold up under scrutiny? Is there truly enough research behind these claims to permit them to infiltrate all aspects of nutrition? An article published this January in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) explores this question.

The NEJM article examined seven myths and six presumptions. Myths were classified as having evidence against them; presumptions were considered those beliefs that do not have enough evidence to say whether they were true or false. So what are these myths? Could their lack of support have implications? We will examine the first six myths presented.

Source: Fox News

Source: Fox News

Myth #1: “Small sustained changes in energy intake or expenditure will produce large, long-term weight changes”

Yes, it is true that exercising to burn more calories (if not negated by increased calorie intake) will lead to weight loss. It is also true that there is a benefit from sustaining these changes. The issue is how health guidelines and popular websites and magazines interpret this myth. These sources lead individuals to believe that a small change will have indefinite impact on weight. However, a small, sustained change will ultimately max out its impact. You will not continue to progressively lose weight because of decreases in energy requirements.

Does that mean this myth can be ignored? Should those small changes be abandoned once you stop losing weight? Absolutely not! This is where the sustained change comes in. It is still important that these small changes are permanent changes to help ensure that the weight that came off, stays off.

Myth #2: “Setting realistic goals for weight loss is important, because otherwise patients will become frustrated and lose less weight.”

The article calls this statement a myth because the literature search did not find significant evidence that realistic goals are more successful than large goals. In fact, it found evidence that large goals are more successful for some. So where did this myth come from?

It is based on the goal-setting theory that states, “unattainable goals impair performance and discourage goal-attaining behavior.” For many, this myth still holds. However, it is important to realize that not all people will respond best to small goals; some need larger goals to strive for. This myth is a reminder that each patient, and situation, is different.

Myth #3: “Large, rapid weight loss is associated with poorer long-term weight-loss outcomes, as compared with slow, gradual weight loss.”

With this myth, there is evidence to support both sides. For some, rapid weight-loss at the beginning results in greater success. For others, smaller weight loss at the beginning proved more successful. So why is this one called a myth? The authors argue that recommending only slow weight-loss may interfere with the success of weight-loss efforts – especially if the individual is more likely to be successful with a strong start.

On the other, recommending large weight loss can be dangerous if not carefully moderated. It is important that if rapid weight loss is recommended, people do not attempt to achieve this with a very low calorie diet.

Myth #4: “It is important to assess the stage of change or diet readiness in order to help patients who request weight loss treatment.”

Number 4 reflects the belief that only when patients feel ready to lose weight are they likely to make the required lifestyle changes. It is not an unrealistic claim. However, there are trials that specifically examined varying magnitudes of weight-loss success based on how ready the patient was to make changes. They found little difference among participants. Keeping this in mind, it should not dispel the idea that patients need to be ready to make changes for successful weight-loss. The article points out that it is likely that those willing to sign up for a weight loss program are ready to make changes.

So if people in a weight loss program are going to be ready anyways, what is the harm of this myth? The issue is that this myth encourages the practitioner to make a judgment about the patient’s readiness. They may inaccurately believe that the patient is not ready and alter the course of action, harming the patient’s success. Additionally, more effort may be spent evaluating a person’s readiness to change rather than on the intervention.

Myth #5: “Physical-education classes, in their current form, play an important role in preventing childhood obesity.”

This myth is already on its way towards being unraveled. Research shows that even with increased time spent in physical education, children’s BMIs do not significantly change. The frequency, intensity, or duration of activity must increase for there to be an impact from these classes. More research is being done to determine what that level of activity is and how it can become part of the physical education classes.

Myth #6: “Breast-feeding is protective against obesity.”

This belief has been around for an extensive amount of time. However, upon investigating, the article reports that there are more studies that show breast-feeding does not have a protective effect against obesity than studies showing that it does. The tricky part is that correcting this myth can have larger negative effects than allowing it to persist. The fact that breast-feeding may not have a protective effect against obesity does not mean the other benefits are also not true. Breast-feeding is still beneficial to both mom and baby. Discussions of the connection to obesity must be careful to get the message across that breast-feeding is still a beneficial, and recommended, practice.

While these myths may not be entirely true as stated, there are truthful aspects to them and each must be considered in context. As always, it is important to remember that new research is published continuously. What is considered a myth today may have scientific backing tomorrow. This article reminds us to keep up with and critically access the research. It is a reminder to be willing to change our way of thinking if sufficient research directs us to do so.

Katie Fesler is a first-year Nutrition Communications student.

Spring Break Friedman Style: How to stay active in Boston

By Sheryl Lynn Carvajal

March has arrived, and there are so many things to celebrate this month.  Not only is it National Nutrition Month, but St. Patrick’s Day, spring break, the first day of spring, Easter, and National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day (which I will definitely be celebrating!) all occur this month.  With all of these days and events to look forward to, we definitely can’t forget to stay active.  If you’re staying in the Boston area during spring break, there are plenty of ways to get your fitness fix.

St. Patrick’s Day 5K Road Race

What comes to mind when you think about St. Patrick’s Day?  It’s one of my favorite days of the year.  It’s an excuse to be Irish for the day and to have everything in my favorite color, green!  With green clothes, green beer, green food, it’s not hard to have a good time.  This year, St. Patrick’s Day kicks off our spring break.  South Boston, or Southie as the locals call it, is heavily populated with families and individuals of Irish descent, making it a great spot to celebrate the festivities.  On March 17, the Boys and Girls Club of Boston will be hosting the Annual St. Patrick’s Day 5K Road Race.  Running 3.1 miles is an awesome way to be active, and to earn a couple of celebratory libations.  For more information on registration and details, visit http://www.bgcb.org/2013-st-patricks-day-road-race/.

City Running Tours

City Running Tours is a company that hosts guided group running tours of major cities in the US.  There is a City Running Tours team here in Boston, and you can choose to participate in a personalized run, or one of the several scheduled social runs.  There are four different types: 5K runs, 5K beer runs, 10K runs, and 10K beer runs, ranging from $25 – $45 per runner.  The online schedule makes it easy to select the length and area of the run.  Although this is geared towards travelers and tourists, it’s a great way to explore the city in a whole different light.  And since there are so many to choose from, you can participate in different running tours to liven your workout scenery.

Beer runs are followed by a Harpoon Brewery tour

Beer runs are followed by a Harpoon Brewery tour

Freedom Trail Run

Similar in concept, the Freedom Trail Run gives the people of Boston an exciting way to learn about the history of the city, while exercising the ol’ ticker.  The Freedom Trail goes through some historical landmarks, and this #1 voted best city tour will give you a run for your money, literally!  Registration is $40 and it includes the guided run, a drink, the return harbor ferryboat ride, and a Freedom Trail Run t-shirt.  If you haven’t had a chance to visit the great historical sites of Boston, be sure to take advantage of this unique opportunity this city has to offer.

Freedom Trail, Bunker Hill Monument

Freedom Trail, Bunker Hill Monument


Community Yoga

If you’re looking to slow it down a little bit, find your center at a community yoga class.  Most gyms and yoga studios require you to purchase membership to take classes, and as graduate students we’re often reluctant or can’t afford to pay full membership.  In the South End, a small dance studio called Urbanity Dance offers community yoga classes every day of the week except Saturday.  These classes are offered on a drop-in, pay-what-you-can basis, and are for all levels of yogis alike.

Additionally, Lululemon Athletica is a clothing store that sells athletic apparel, yoga mats, accessories, etc.  There are locations on Newbury Street, in the Prudential Center, and at the end of March, they will be opening up a store right around the corner from Tufts Medical Center.  Lululemon hosts community events every month, and running clubs and complimentary yoga classes are often on the list.  It’s easy to find a community event, just visit their website, and search for the store nearest you and click on their calendar of events.  These yoga classes are a great way to stay active that won’t break the bank.

Other spring break activities to stay active

One does not have to be at the gym, running 5K races, or taking a structured fitness class in order to be active.  Although it may not get quite as warm as where some of our classmates will be “spring-breaking”, spring is in the air and it’s time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.  Put together a pickup game of football or Ultimate Frisbee at Boston Common.  Go to the dog park with your furry friend and run around with him.  Hit the beach for a day of sand and sun, and bring along a soccer ball or volleyball.  Regardless of what you do, the season of spring brings forth several possibilities to remain active in Boston.

*Photo credits: my awesome iPhone camera skills 

Sheryl Carvajal is a first year Nutrition Communication student who was so excited when she found out there was a National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day.  She is also very happy to be going back to the Sunshine State for spring break, where she will be doing lots of boating and fishing.

More spring break ideas: books!

By Kate Hebel

Books1From my first day of classes at Friedman, I’ve met professors and students who persistently engage my desire to learn. Even within our common field of nutrition science and policy, everyone comes from a wide variety of backgrounds and maintains diverse interests. In honor of Spring Break, a perfect opportunity to catch up on some reading, I’ve compiled a list of books that may inspire you to continue your learning outside the classroom. Now, I’m not claiming to have read all of these books; in fact, my colleagues, professors, and classmates have recommended many of them to me. And while it’s not an exhaustive list of the must-read literature out there, I hope there’s at least something for everyone. One thing is for sure – my personal reading list just got a bit longer!

Agriculture/Sustainability

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food by Berry Wendell

Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All by Oran Hesterman

Food Matters by Mark Bittman

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean, and Fair by Carlo Petrini

The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities by Will Allen and Charles Wilson

The Town That Food Saved by Ben Hewitt
The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry

Food Industry/Business

Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Food Politics

Food Politics, Revised and Expanded Edition by Marion Nestle

Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know by Robert Paarlberg

Food Fight: The Inside Story of the Food Industry, America’s Obesity Crisis & What We Can Do About It by Kelly D. Brownell and Katherine Battle Horgen

Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics by Marion Nestle

Books2

Hunger/Food and Water Security

American Wasteland by Jonathan Bloom

Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity by Lester Brown

Poor Economics by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo

Running Out of Water by Peter Rogers and Susan Leal

The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-first Century by Alex Prud’homme

Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal by Tristram Stuart

Miscellaneous

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think by Brian Wansink

One Man’s Meat by EB White

The End of Overeating by David Kessler

Thinner This Year: A Younger Next Year Book by Chris Crowley and Jennifer Sacheck

What the World Eats by Faith D’Aluisio and Peter Menzel

Thank you to everyone who helped me to compile this list.

Did I miss one of your favorite titles? Feel free to share more titles in the comments section!

Kate Hebel is a second-year Nutrition Communications student and a Registered Dietitian. In her free time she enjoys reading and looks forward to knocking a few of these classics off her personal reading list this month. 

Streamlining health care: Is Weight Watchers a fix for the obesity crisis?

By Brandon Ransom

David Kirchhoff, CEO of Weight Watchers International, shocked the Healthcare Centered Consumer Innovation conference by announcing that Weight Watchers wants to be treated as a healthcare company, its franchises viewed as a nationwide network of obesity clinics.

Kirchhoff says that while primary care doctors could play a much larger role in combating the obesity epidemic, they are burdened by time and training constraints. Because of this heavy physician burden, Weight Watchers believes that the responsibility of weight management can be outsourced to community-based organizations like Weight Watchers.  Kirchhoff proposes that primary care practices form bridges with community care models with the backing of insurance company reimbursements.

Here’s how the process could work. Patient goes to see a primary care physician. After measurements are taken, the patient learns that his or her BMI is above 30. The physician then has a conversation with the patient about the health consequences of being obese, then refers the patient to a private organization like Weight Watchers. The patient attends the program and the cost is covered by insurance. The doctor periodically checks the patient’s progress.

While it has not yet been tried on a large scale, pilot studies have been performed.  A 2011 Lancet article compared primary care referral systems for weight loss with commercial providers (Weight Watchers) as opposed to standard care.  In this randomized control trial, 772 overweight and obese adults were recruited in Australia, Germany, and the UK.  Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 12 months of standard care (as defined by national guidelines) or 12 months of free membership to a commercial program (Weight Watchers) and were followed for 12 months.

Of those assigned to the commercial program, 61% adhered to the program for 12 months, which was a fairly incredible feat for a weight loss program, and 51% adhered to the 12-month standard care program.  The group that received treatment from Weight Watchers lost twice as much weight as those in the standard care group.  This study, as well as several similar ones, has given Weight Watchers confidence that it offers a clinically useful intervention for weight management in overweight and obese individuals and potentially could lower the incidence of chronic disease.

Weight Watchers is an organization that has a proven track record.  Their Point Plus system of dieting has been proven effective. The algorithm takes into account a food’s protein, fat, carbs and fiber to come up with a score.  Each member is given a personalized Point Plus target to help guide them on how to eat and lose weight safely while being satisfied. The system offers a  flexible way for Weight Watchers participants to plan their diets. No foods are forbidden. Instead, participants are encouraged to make wiser choices when it comes to eating.

Weight Watchers plans to incentivize patients adhering to primary care referrals through providing insurance discounts to patients that stick have high adherence to their insurance sponsored plan.  Adherence will be measured on a tiered system that rewards those that follow their weight loss plan and penalizes those that don’t.

Weight Watchers believes that Insurance companies will be willing to pair with them, because the best insurance customer is a healthy insurance customer.  Customers that contribute to contribute to the pool, but uses limited services are the source of most insurance profits.  Incentivizing prevention programs such as weight watchers could lower the overall cost that insurance agencies and reap higher long term returns.

Kirchhoff is a firm believer that the community aspect of Weight Watchers can and will make a difference in the way that overweight individuals approach healthcare.  Gone will be the days where guidance on weight loss is a luxury.  Weight Watchers is looking to provide a universal way for anyone looking to lose weight to get the help that they need.

For now, just how the price would be set for such private weight control services remains unclear. It’s quite possible that insurance reimbursement for these services will create new opportunities for health and nutrition specialists with weight management experience. The integration of behavioral change clinics could provide a nationwide platform for individuals that specialize in nutrition, opening a variety of new funding sources for grants around health maintenance and weight loss.

Brandon Ransom holds a BS in Biology from Morehouse College and is a second year FPAN student specializing in Entrepreneurship and Management in Health and Nutrition. As aspiring inventor/entrepreneur in health and nutrition, he hopes to use technology to help solve the current obesity epidemic.

Boost your brain power with pudding!

Mousse1By Natalie Obermeyer

According to the National Health Information Center, March 11 to 17 is Brain Awareness Week. Brain Awareness Week appropriately falls within National Nutrition Month: what we eat directly impacts our brain function. Indeed, our brain uses more energy than any other part of our body; between 20 and 30 percent of the calories we consume goes to powering our brains.

Our brains use so much energy because the nerves in the brain are constantly firing and forming new connections. As we age, the ability to form new brain connections declines. However, maintaining an adequate nutrient status by eating a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids can help keep our brains plastic. For example, studies suggest that adequate intakes of vitamins E and C, vitamin B12, and folate may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer ’s disease. Essential fatty acids (especially omega-6 and omega-3 fats) are also needed to promote neurotransmitter release, and deficiencies of these fatty acids have been associated with motor and cognitive impairment in rats. Additionally, other dietary antioxidants such as beta-carotene can protect against oxidative stress, which some researchers believe may be a major contributor to brain aging.

What should we eat then to supply our brains with all of these vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and antioxidants? One of the best foods for delivering all of these beneficial compounds in one package is an avocado. Avocados contain more than 20 vitamins and minerals, are rich sources of beneficial fatty acids, and are considered by the US Department of Agriculture to be one of the fruits and vegetables that supply the most antioxidants.

So, in honor of Brain Awareness Week, try out this delicious creamy chocolate pudding made with avocados. The cocoa powder in the pudding also provides brain-boosting flavanoids. A review article published in February in the British Journal of Nutrition linked cocoa flavonoids with better brain function and increased cerebral blood flow. Studies also show cocoa consumption can improve performance on memory tasks and other brain teasers. Plus, this pudding recipe contains no added sugar. Instead, dates are used to sweeten it up. Dates are excellent sources of potassium, an electrolyte which transmits nerve impulses throughout the brain.Mousse3

Brain-Boosting Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut milk

12 medjool dates (found in produce section), pitted

1 Tbsp vanilla

2 ripe avocados

1/2 cup cocoa powder

Instructions:

In a food processor or high-powered blender, blend together the coconut milk, dates, and vanilla until there are no more date chunks. Add in the avocado and cocoa powder and blend until completely smooth. Transfer to bowl. Let cool in fridge overnight.

If you want to further boost the pudding’s antioxidant and micronutrient content, top with a dollop of macadamia cream and bits of shaved dark chocolate.Mousse2

Macadamia Cream:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup macadamia nuts

3 medjool dates, pitted

1/4 cup almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

Instructions:

Blend all ingredients in high-powered blender until smooth and creamy.

Natalie Obermeyer is a first year student in the Nutrition Communication and Masters of Public Health programs. When she is not studying, reading, or writing, she loves to run, hike, ski, play outdoors in the sunshine, and experiment in the kitchen.

A caring experiment to help the hungry

By M.E. Malone

Walk into the 1-month-old Panera Cares community café in Center Plaza across from Boston City Hall and look around. Notice anything different? There are great scents, a line at the counter, laptop-tapping at a nearby table, pleasantries exchanged about the weather – all the usual sights and sounds of a weekday morning caffeine rush.Panera2

But unlike the Panera cafés you may have visited before, this one doesn’t have prices listed next to the items on the menu board. Instead, there are suggested contributions. And, if you choose, you don’t have to pay anything at all for your meal.

The Panera Bread Foundation, the charitable arm of the national chain known for its fresh breads and delicious sandwiches, has embarked on an interesting social project. The café operates on a pay-it-forward model: customers are asked to donate money for their meals if they can afford it. And, if they wish, contribute a little more to cover the costs of food for those who can’t pay full price for their meal.

“It’s gone extraordinarily well,” said Kate Antonacci, project manager of Panera Cares. Since the Boston café opened for business in mid-January, she said that patron donations have been close to 95% of the suggested contributions, which mirror the price of the food items in other Panera locations. “It’s been our strongest opening to date.”

The first Panera Cares store opened in Clayton, Missouri in 2010, followed by stores in Dearborn, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; and Chicago, Illinois. While the other locations were regular Panera stores converted to community cafés, the Boston location at 3 Center Plaza across from City Hall is the first one built entirely for the purpose of serving as a community café. According to Antonacci, this was in part because of the strong potential customer base they hoped to tap into at this location.

Panera3Panera, with deep roots in Boston dating back to the founding of Au Bon Pain in 1981, is careful to distinguish its mission from that of traditional soup kitchens, homeless shelters and food pantries. “This is not a permanent solution for people who are hungry. It is not where you go on a daily basis,” Antonucci notes. Instead, Panera wanted to see if it could use its corporate strengths to expand its existing charitable endeavors. “We’re in the business of feeding people. We asked ourselves: ‘Is there a way that we can take our core competencies…and apply that so we’re now making a direct difference in communities we’re serving?’”

Panera worked with the city and a number of local soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and food pantries before embarking on the project. “We want to understand the demographics of the neighborhood better,” she added. “We have a real clarity of purpose…and wanted to create awareness of what we were doing.”

Local coffee houses have dotted the American landscape for more than a century, and companies involved in food – from manufacturers to supermarkets to chef-owned restaurants – have been known to focus their charitable efforts on the hungry. The combination of the two has led to a growing interest in the establishment of small cafés in places where residents welcome an economically diverse array of neighbors.

A national organization, One World Everybody Eats, which originated in Salt Lake City, Utah, was one of the inspirations behind Panera Cares. Denise Cerrata, founder of the organization, said she is rooting for the success of the national chain.

She opened her own café in 2003 with a “pay what you can” model. A few years later, the S.A.M.E. (So All May Eat) café was opened in Denver, Colorado, based on the same principle. Soon community cafés devoted to helping ease food insecurity in their neighborhoods premiered in Texas, Washington, and North Carolina. There are currently 32 cafes in the One World Everybody Eats network.

“People get the concept,” Cerrata said. In her experience, most customers pay the suggested amount, but many choose to contribute more. “I think the people who pay it forward have had a similar experience at some point in the past; they had been hungry or had been a single parent.”

Cerreta said the community café model is mostly about building relationships. “They bring people together and help create a stronger sense of community. We just happen to be serving food,” she added.

Panera CEO, Ron Schaich, made it clear that the success of a corporate altruistic endeavor such as this one ultimately depends on the generosity of the neighborhood. “This community cafe is a gift to the community that was funded by Panera,” at a cost of about $1 million, Schaich said when the café opened in Boston on January 23. “Now that the site is open, it’s up to the community to sustain it. All consumers have to do is cover its direct operating costs…(It) will only work if the community supports it and one another.”

M.E. Malone is a first year M.S./M.P.H. student and co-editor of Friedman Sprout.