By Emma Grace:
In the U.S., there is a growing awareness about healthful eating that leaves many people in a tight situation: sometimes, there simply isn’t any alternative to the standard packaged, processed and fast food. People often are left to fend for themselves, and pack their own meals and snacks for work and/or school, or while traveling. However, entrepreneurs around the country are recognizing the need for affordable, available and convenient food services.
I recently learned of two such businesses that are trying to satisfy the need for healthful and accessible food for the masses. The first is a Chicago based salad vending machine company called Farmer’s Fridge that has locations all over the city, where a freshly made salad costs $7 (but at the end of the day are discounted for a mere $1). They also make snacks like yogurt with local honey, line-caught tuna salad, and chicken salad made from humanely raised chickens. The second company is HUMAN Healthy Vending machine company (Helping Unite Mankind And Nutrition), a franchise business that replaces standard junk fare with a mini-market or vending machine stocked with a variety of whole food snack products. With over 2,000 machines across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, they even have their own brand of crunchy snacks that satisfy federal school nutrition guidelines.
Although the two vending machine companies provide different products and use different approaches, they have clear similarities with regard to the purpose behind the businesses. The owners have not only made healthy food a priority, but they also emphasize social and environmental responsibility. For example, Farmer’s Fridge salads are packaged in BPA-free plastic, and there is a recycling drop at every machine. The ingredients are sourced from local businesses and farmers, are sometimes organic, and are made and delivered fresh daily. Additionally, the vending machines are custom made with reclaimed and recycled wood. The company donates all unsold foods at the end of the day to local Chicago food banks.
Comparatively, HUMAN donates 10% of all profits to combat childhood obesity. In fact, in a TEDx talk, Sean Kelly, one of the HUMAN founders, argued that healthy food is the driving force behind improving the overall health of Americans, and by changing the social acceptability and availability of healthy foods, all aspects of well-being grow exponentially. Their main vision is to “make healthy food more convenient than junk food,” especially by encouraging schools, hospitals and gyms to provide healthy foods for the public.
Farmer’s Fridge and HUMAN Healthy Vending are just two examples of a growing movement to provide real food to people. To further the availability and accessibility of clean, healthful foods for everyone, the public needs to encourage and support ventures such as these with our dollars and demands. If you work in an office that has a vending machine filled with typical junk food, put some feelers out to see if a healthier option is available in your area. With a conscious decision to support companies that not only provide healthy food but are responsible to the greater community and world, one day, HUMAN’s mission to make it harder to find junk food than real food can be achieved!