Panera trying new pay-what-you-want experiment

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Order a bowl of turkey chili at a St. Louis-area Panera Bread and it'll cost you a penny. Or $5. Or $100. In other words, whatever you decide.

Three years after launching the first of five pay-what-you-want cafes, the suburban St. Louis-based chain brings the concept to its latest charitable venture starting Wednesday.

The new idea experiments with a single item, Turkey Chili in a Bread Bowl, available in a trial run at 48 St. Louis-area cafes for whatever customers choose to pay. The suggested $5.89 price (tax included) is only a guideline. All other menu items are sold for the posted price.

Panera calls it the Meal of Shared Responsibility. Above-the-cost proceeds go to cover meals for customers who cannot pay full price and to St. Louis-area hunger initiatives.

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