How a Vending Machine Can Remove Barriers to Healthy Eating

How a vending machine can remove barriers to healthy eatingSalad seems like it should be an easy meal, but if I can be frank, it’s a pain in the ass.

I very rarely make salads for myself. They have so many ingredients, and inevitably I don’t have the right ones. Then there’s the chopping, washing, and dressing. It’s just too much work.

Luke Saunders saw the problem with salads and thought about how he might solve it so that lower income people could have access to this nutritious meal option. Enter the $1 salad vending machine, experimentally placed in a low-income neighborhood in Chicago. (The vending machines charge $7-8 per salad normally.) Farmer’s Fridge vending machines will expand operations to Los Angeles in 2015.

What makes me hopeful about this initiative is that it overcomes many of the barriers associated with making and eating salads for lunch:

  • They require advance preparation
  • They have many ingredients, which makes it more likely you’ll be missing something you need
  • The ingredients are perishable, so can’t be bought too far in advance
  • Some of the ingredients are sold in much larger quantities than needed, which introduces waste
  • The cumulative cost of the ingredients may be high

Even at the $7-8 price point, Farmer’s Fridge offers a reasonable alternative to fast food without many of the barriers typically associated with eating fresh, multi-ingredient meals.

In coaching health behavior change, a key strategy is to help identify barriers to change and generate solutions to them. Coaching through this process also helps support people’s sense of confidence and build self-efficacy. Knocking down barriers is an important step to change. Saunders seems to have made fantastic strides in doing just that.

I’ll leave you with this collection of stock photos of women laughing alone with salad–something more women will now be able to do thanks to Saunders’ innovations in salad.

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