Vending Machines Take Salads to a New Level.

Not just for snacks anymore.

Jan 19, 2020

(Courtesy Fresh Bowl)

Having a salad for lunch is a time-honored tradition. Restaurant take away menus, delis, and even fast food joints have been featuring salads to go for years.

But now, a new trend has hit New York City, vending machines that sell fresh wholesome salads. Yes, you read it right, vending machines that sell salads.

So, when commuters get off at their station in downtown Manhattan, or five other locations, they can grab a salad to go. The machines are made by Fresh Bowl, a new startup, and have launched in the fall of 2019.

The chef created salads and snacks that come in reusable glass jars that can be returned for credit on your next purchase. There are six unusual salads and there is something for everyone including a colorful Miso Rainbow Bowl, a spicy Southwest Bowl, crunchy Cashew Pesto Pasta, and the bestselling Thai Cashew Noodle Bowl.

The salads are made fresh every morning and the dressing is at the bottom, so the salad does not get soggy. The prices range from $6-12 a jar.

Fresh Bowl founder and CEO Zachary Lawless said they are selling around 180 meals a day from the vending machines and that 85 percent of the glass jars are being returned. That translates into a lot of satisfied repeat customers.

“If you bring it back, you’re not only saving money, but you’re doing something good for the environment,” Chloe Vichot, the startup’s co-founder told Fast Company.

She ran Ancolie, a café that sold salads in a glass jar and when approached by Lawless to try this in vending machines, Vichot was quickly sold on the novel idea.

“Having a vending machine made a lot of sense, because all of a sudden we could bring our mission of being more sustainable and bringing more healthy food to a lot of people by putting a machine in 10, 20, or 100 locations,” she said.

Fresh Bowl ran a six-month pilot that placed a machine at a WeWork coworking office and then gathered feedback and ideas from the workers. They tweaked the recipes that were mostly from the menu at the café and were ready to officially open.

Other companies are getting into using vending machines for more than just snacks and drinks. According to Rough Guides there are a host of machines dispensing some very unusual items around the globe. The article wrote about a gift machine at S*uce Gifts in Dubai’s Village Mall that dispenses gift items like scented candles, perfumes, and lingerie for the man who forgot his wife's birthday.

Sprinkles Cupcakes in the US have an ATM like machine that offers freshly baked cupcakes in a variety of flavors every day. And, you can buy books at a book vending machine at the National museum of Singapore.

Now that winter is here, homeless people in Muncie Indiana can get tokens to use a vending machine that dispenses warm clothing and blankets. All the merchandise was donated by the community.

Converting a concept that was designed to distribute chips, sugary candy, and unhealthy soft drinks now can be used to deliver a healthy salad or a warm pair of socks. That's a transition you might want to get behind.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.