COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Panera Bread CEO Niren Chaudhary said his company is launching a partnership with the USDA and Children’s Hunger Alliance to deliver boxed lunches to students across Ohio. He says the goal is to expand the program to other states later.

Districts across the U.S. have been looking for ways to continue feeding students during closures. Some are delivering breakfast and lunch by school bus, while others are asking families to pick up meals at district sites.

Panera and Covelli Enterprises issued the following press release regarding the new initiative:

Panera and Covelli Enterprises announced a partnership with the Children’s Hunger Alliance (CHA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide freshly prepared, nutritious, and wholesome meals to children in need in the state of Ohio. The announcement came during a press briefing in the White House with the President of the United States and Niren Chaudhary, CEO of Panera. Covelli’s Panera restaurants will be assisting CHA to feed the hundreds of thousands of children who are typically provided meals at Ohio schools, afterschool and childcare centers. Panera is also working with the USDA to scale this model with other states across the nation.

“At the onset of this terrible pandemic our company immediately realized that it had a duty to help in any way that we could. I reached out to the Governor to see what immediate needs that the State had. I am honored and proud that our Panera Bread Restaurants across Ohio will be the first in the nation to act on this partnership to provide freshly prepared, nutritious, wholesome meals to children in our home state. On behalf of Covelli Enterprises, we are grateful to be able to bring meals to those children who need it most. In these unprecedented times, I whole-heartedly believe that we must all come together to do what we can to help. At Panera, we believe good food should be accessible to all. This partnership helps us to serve that mission,” said Sam Covelli.

The Panera-provided CHA meals include a menu of five different clean, wholesome choices from salad to sandwiches and veggie snack boxes including a new whole grain bread. All these meals are balanced per USDA guidance to include dairy, lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. These meals are being offered at extreme discount to align with current USDA school food prices.

The Panera and CHA meal partnership will kick off in Ohio on April 6th. As the need continues to grow across the nation, the Panera teams also stand ready to assist other states and communities. Panera is encouraging in-need non-profits or state government to contact the company at

Columbus City Schools has been providing breakfast and lunch during the past two weeks.

Here are the locations for the free meal pickups:

  • Linden-McKinley STEM Academy, 1320 Duxberry Avenue, 43211
  • South 7-12, 1160 Ann Street, 43206
  • Buckeye Middle School, 2950 South Parsons Avenue, 43207
  • Independence High School, 5175 East Refugee Road, 43232
  • Columbus Afrocentric Early College, 3223 Allegheny Avenue, 43209
  • Sherwood Middle School, 1400 Shady Lane Road, 43227
  • Centennial High School, 1441 Bethel Road, 43220
  • Columbus Global Academy, 4077 Karl Road, 43224
  • Mifflin High School, 3245 Oak Spring Street, 43219
  • Woodward Park Middle School, 5151 Karl Road, 43229
  • West High School, 179 South Powell Avenue, 43204
  • Starling PreK-8, 145 South Central Avenue, 43222
  • Wedgewood Middle School, 3800 Briggs Road, 43228