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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Sugar Shocked

Amy and Steve Bouchie’s vending machine resembles the same chubby apparatus taking refuge inside nearly every office building or school, welcoming travelers at most highway rest stops, and beckoning to passersby with snacks to quench midday hunger pangs. Aside from the branding covering the exterior, it looks like the typical vending machine. It’s not. It’s healthy.

After four years of owning a Subway franchise, the Bouchies sold their Evansville location in January 2011, but their spirit for franchise ownership never diminished. “When we knew we were going to sell the Subway, we started looking into new franchises,” says Amy, an Ameriprise financial advisor. “We had a good experience with the Subway being a franchise.”

A month later, they purchased a new franchise, Fresh Healthy Vending. The timing felt right. According to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 12 states passed new laws on school nutrition in 2010. The emphasis on making schools healthier, says Steve, a logistics manager at Nestle, makes education institutions perfect for healthy vending.

The point, Amy says, reaches beyond schools and into the community. She hopes to encourage better eating habits across Evansville. “I always have gotten frustrated that I like to eat healthy, and when I go up to a vending machine, the only option is sugar,” she says.

The San Diego-based healthy vending company offers the opposite: more than 400 snacks such as 100-percent juices, fruits, smoothies, granola bars, baked chips, and healthy drinks in dual climate machines (allowing perishables and non-perishables to share the same space). The Bouchies bought 10 vending machines to be placed throughout Evansville. As of July 2011, nine have found homes.

The items in the machines differ from place to place. Dancers at Evansville Ballet may want different snacks than weightlifters at Nitro Fitness. The couple also receives input from two business partners: their 14 and 16-year-old sons. “When we looked at the products that were available,” Amy says, “our boys were both very positive toward it and felt like kids would eat those things.”

Fresh Healthy Vending machine locations include Eastland Mall, Evansville Ballet, Nitro Fitness, Newburgh Tumbling, Reitz Memorial High School, Westside Catholic School, and Walt’s Drive-A-Way.
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