As a uni student, I would always walk past the vending machines on campus and WISH they stocked something remotely healthy; on the odd occasion that I would visit friends in hospital, it was much of the same thing – there was nothing available for those looking to lead a healthier lifestyle (yes, even at a hospital). Train stations and bus stations? More of the same. I can’t tell you how long I have wished for someone to bring healthy food options to those on the run and today, I am SO EXCITED to introduce you to the team that have done just that…FüD. That’s right, truly nourishing, healthy gourmet meals (that cater for gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, sugar-free, paleo, dairy free, low carb, low-FODMAP, and high protein) from a VENDING MACHINE! I recently sat down with Laura Anderson, registered psychologist and co-founder of FüD, to learn more…
Laura, I can’t tell you how excited I am to see this project launch. Tell me more about what inspired this journey?
FüD really came about from our frustration at not being able to access genuinely healthy fast food options when we were out and about. I am vegan and suffer from an auto-immune disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This can make things tricky when trying to get a healthy snack on the go (I am always rushing from one thing to another!) We knew that there were loads of other people who were in the same boat, so we figured why not be the peeps that provide this goodness to the world? And FüD was born!
How is the food dispensed?
We have developed a range of unique vending outlets that function completely independently. Each day we stock them with a huge range of healthy meals and snacks. Our vending outlets are also super convenient as each transaction is quick, and we can locate them in unique spaces like office foyers, train stations, etc.
How do you maintain freshness?
We make our meals from scratch fresh each morning. Any unsold items from the day before are removed from the outlet. Secondly, when we prepare our meals we specially stack the ingredients inside the jar to ensure they don’t get all mixed up and go soggy throughout the day. We also keep the dressings separate in a little container inside the jar. That way, when our customers are ready to eat their FüD, they can mix up their ingredients, dressing and proteins and munch away on their freshly made salad!
What do you do with unsold stock?
Unsold FüD is removed from each healthy vending outlet at the end of the day and we donate it to local charities that work with people currently experiencing homelessness or financial hardship so that they can have access to healthy and nutritious meals. We currently work very closely with our great mates at Homeless of Melbourne, and will soon also be working with The Big Umbrella .
Wow, food wastage is such a huge problem – I love that you do that. I also read that your packaging is made of recyclable mason jars?
Yes, our mason jars are made out of recyclable light-weight BPA-plastic. We really encourage the FüD family to reuse their jars (we love storing our spices, quinoa, rice, etc in our jars at home!). This particular style of jar is the perfect size and shape to chuck in your handbag and eat while you’re on the go.
Can you share what’s on the menu? What’s your favourite?
Our menu changes seasonally! We have got some awesome wintery salads on the go at the moment, including ‘The Winter Roast’, which is a vegan and paleo-inspired combo of tri-coloured organic quinoa, oven roasted pumpkin and hazelnuts, balsamic glazed beetroot chips, cranberries, Tuscan kale, baby spinach and a white-bean and rosemary mousse… my mouth is actually watering as I list the ingredients (Alyse: Mine too!). Our most popular snack is definitely the ‘Holy Granoly which is an epic combo of natural organic yoghurt, our house-made sugar free raspberry and chia coulis, and topped with our famous paleo Aussie nut granola. It is so so yummy, and fills you up all day with no sugar crashes!!
Laura, it sounds like the team has really nailed it! But I have to ask, what’s the price point?
At FüD we know that budget can big a big barrier to making healthier lifestyle choices for some people, so it is really important to us that FüD is affordable and accessible to everyone in the community. Our meals, which are made from mostly organic ingredients, sell for $10. Our range of additional proteins, snacks and drinks cost between $3 – $7. We are also currently working with specific locations like hospitals and schools to find other ways to subsidise some of the costs so that we can bring our prices down even further to ensure all customers can afford our products.
Wow, that’s incredibly affordable! Especially when a bottle of water is close to $4 from a vending machine! Are there plans to expand?
The FüD team have big dreams and are working on chasing them each and every day! We would love to see our range of healthy vending hubs in schools, university’s, workplaces, hospitals, gyms, and train stations right around Australia.. At this stage, we plan to open up five more healthy vending hubs in Victoria before the end of 2015, and in 2016 we plan to expand nationally. We are currently taking expressions of interest for our healthy vending hubs right around Australia.
I am so excited to see this project grow! Congrats to you and the team and thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.
For those looking to find out more about #thefudrevolution, you can find the team here:
UPDATE 16/02/2018: The Fud Revolution is no longer in business.