FT. LAUDERDALE, FL -- VE South reports that, with the addition of schools in Dallas, Knoxville, TN, and Pinellas County, FL, there are now more than 400 Star Food Healthy Express machines feeding breakfast, lunch and snacks to school children across the U.S.
"This means as many as 100,000 meals are getting to kids every week of the 36-week school year," said Joe Gilbert, general manager and vice-president of Star Food parent company VE South.
He said his estimate on vended meals is conservative and does not reflect the full capacity of the vending machines, which is about 3.6 million meals a year for kids who qualify for free or reduced cost meals at school.
"Before Star Food, many kids just did not have a chance to eat and make it to class. Our machines serve healthy, reimbursable, multi-component meals in less than 20 seconds."
Gilbert observed that the machines' "high-tech and high-touch" concept works for students, according to the school foodservice executives nationwide who have installed Healthy Express venders in their schools. It works for schools too, by better employing the skills of their nutrition staffs and offering meal opportunities at times when the cafeteria might not be open, like in the early morning or during after-school activities.
According to Bob Gottlieb, director of educational services for Star Food, schools in all parts of the country are looking for options to "feed more kids" and are looking at reimbursable meals in vending machines for schools.
"We just finished the School Nutrition Association's big show and were swamped by school nutrition experts wanting to learn more," Gottlieb reported. "We were the first to introduce this concept eight years ago, and the schools understood right away what it could do for the kids – and to impact the revenue they bring in through foodservice."
VE South is one of the largest full-service vending machine companies in the Southeast. It is headquartered at 4800 NW 15th Ave., Ste. B, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309. Gottlieb can be contacted by calling (877) 857-3663, ext. 1