CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Panera Bread's puzzle piece cookies are returning this week as part of an Autism Awareness month initiative.
Covelli Enterprises, the Ohio-based franchisee of Panera Bread, is partnering with Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to again launch its "Pieces of Hope for Autism" cookie campaign.
The special cookies will be available Monday through Sunday, April 15. All proceeds from the "Pieces of Hope" cookie sales will be donated to the hospital's Kelly O'Leary Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The puzzle piece cookie is designed to represent the symbol for autism. It will be sold at all 23 cafes in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area.
The cookie, made from Panera Bread's shortbread and topped with white icing and an edible sugar decal, was reformulated in 2016 to align with Panera Bread's clean food policy. It is made completely free of any artificial colors, flavors, additives or preservatives.
Cookies may be pre-ordered online at www.covelli.com/autism.
Last year, the "Pieces of Hope"campaign yielded a $23,000 donation to Cincinnati Children's.
"I love our 'Pieces of Hope for Autism' campaign because I know how much good it is doing in our communities," said Sam Covelli, owner and operator of Covelli Enterprises. "This special cookie has allowed us to make such a positive difference for those with autism, and that's something we are extremely proud of."
Panera Bread is also collecting Community Breadbox donations at the registers of all of its local cafes to raise additional funds for the cause. The "Covelli Cares" collection continues through April.
"Panera's Pieces of Hope is an exciting way for our staff, patients and families to kick-off Autism Awareness Month in April," said Julia Anixt, MD director at the Kelly O'Leary Center at Cincinnati Children's. "We are excited that this campaign will both raise awareness about ASD in our community, and support treatments at our center that improve outcomes for children with ASD."
Panera Bread is encouraging "Pieces of Hope" campaign supporters to share photos of their cookies on social media using the hashtag #everycookiecounts.