Why Farmer's Fridge Wants To Change The Way You See Vending Machines

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It's no secret that airport food is rather average and typically on the expensive side. Travelers spend tens of billions of dollars at airports every year, shelling out an average of $11 to $140 per visit, and yet, the culinary options are still notoriously bleak (via Business Insider).

However, one Chicago-based food prep company is hoping to change the culinary landscape of airports once and for all with a series of unconventional vending machines. According to Today, the health-focused meal delivery company, Farmer's Fridge, hopes to double their presence at airports and healthcare facilities nationwide over the next year. Farmer's Fridge specializes in temperature-controlled vending machines full of fresh, pre-packaged salads and bowls in reusable plastic jars.

The company, which also offers home deliveries of their pre-packaged meals across the U.S., was founded in 2013 with the goal of offering fast, fresh food options for diners on the go. "We started with a network of smart fridges, designed to make finding fresh and healthy meals as simple as vending a candy bar," the brand shares on their website. "Today, we have more than 400 Fridges all over the country in airports, hospitals, office buildings, universities, and more." 

In addition to offering more nutritious on-the-go meals, Farmer's Fridge prices the majority of its menu at under $10, offering a more affordable option for travelers.

Farmer's Fridge has had some challenges in the past

In addition to their popular vending machines, Farmer's Fridge has also worked with major nationwide retailers, like Target, and has even partnered with Dunkin' to sell fresh salads at a handful of Chicago-based locations, offering customers a healthier on-the-go alternative.

In the past, however, the brand's vending machines have landed them in hot water with health officials who questioned the safety of the prepared food. In 2019, the New York City Health Department banned the sale of salads and other prepared food items in the city's vending machines, citing that "selling certain prepared foods from a vending machine can create a risk of food-borne illness," (via New York Post). The ruling specifically singled out a Farmer's Fridge vending machine, which was not in compliance with the city's health regulations. The health food company voluntarily shut down all 60 public NYC vending machines in compliance with the ruling.

According to Today, Farmer's Fridge makes every effort to counteract potential health threats by carefully monitoring the temperature of their vending machines and preventing the purchase of items past their best-by date. The brand also offers a touch-free ordering option via their app for customers who aren't comfortable using a public touchscreen. While some travelers may still be hesitant to order a salad or grain bowl, many others will delight in finally having a healthy, affordable dining option at airports nationwide.