What Panera's Cool Food Meal Label Means

True to its name, Delish reports that Panera Bread bakes up an astounding 250 million bagels and 50 million baguettes every year. But it turns out Panera has set its sights on doing more for its customers than just offering a selection of mouth-watering sandwiches on fresh tomato basil bread.

As the chain's website notes, Panera hopes "to spread generosity" to "communities, the planet, and you." And the sandwich and soup shop has been making good on this promise. To ensure no loaf goes wasted and no mouth goes unfed, the popular restaurant delivers the fresh bread it doesn't sell by the end of the day to the likes of food pantries and veteran services through its Day-End Dough-Nation program. And the brand even allows its employees to take paid time off to help out in its associate-based volunteer program, Team Panera Doing Good. But while all of these initiatives cover the community outreach part of Panera's mission, you may be wondering how it's helping the planet.

If you have ever looked at Panera Bread's menu and noticed that some items like its Chipotle Chicken, Scrambled Egg & Avocado on Ciabatta are called Cool Food Meals, we're here to tell you that these special eats aren't just a cool-as-ice option for a quick lunch. Instead, the meaning behind its Cool Food Meal label indicates Panera's dedication to the environment.

Panera's Cool Food meals are part of an initiative to protect the Earth

According to Zero Food Print, due to factors like transportation and ingredient production, an average restaurant produces 8 kg carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), a way to calculate the total carbon dioxide emissions produced, for each dinner it sells to a customer. As the same outlet notes, that's essentially one gallon of gas used for every meal consumers chow down on. And yet, according to The World Resource Center, Americans should only be eating a breakfast that produces 3.59 kg of CO2e and dining on lunches and dinners that come out at a 5.83 kg carbon footprint.

To help make ordering out more carbon emission friendly, the WRC has partnered with restaurants to identify the menu items that carry the smallest carbon footprint, which is a move that allows customers to easily assess the environmental impact of their food options. And this was also an initiative Panera Bread instantly jumped on. Of course, these good-for-the-environment eats are labeled as Cool Food Meals.

While Panera plans to continue to work with the WRC to bring more Cool Food Meal-worthy dishes to its menu, Thrillist reports a little over half of its current items are already Cool Food Meal label eligible. This once again proves how dedicated the chain is to fulfilling its mission to better the environment — and also makes it a perfect spot to enjoy an Earth-friendly lunch.