Food and COVID-19 in Atlanta

Food and COVID-19 in Atlanta

Food and COVID-19 in Atlanta

COVID-19 has had an impact on everything including Atlanta individuals’ relationship with food. While many of the changes can be seen anecdotally, a recent study by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) specifically identified how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Americans’ current perceptions about food as well as food-related trends from the past decade.

Three key statistics stand out.

  • “85% of Americans have made at least some change in the food they eat or how they prepare it because of the coronavirus pandemic.”
  • “32% of Americans reported in the survey that they are snacking more.”
  • “More than half (54%) of all consumers say the healthfulness of their food choices matters more now than it did in 2010 [the last time the survey was performed].”

Safety

Understanding these changes and adapting to them is especially important for Atlanta employers as non-essential employees head back to their workplaces. Employers have an opportunity to help their employees by providing safely prepared refreshment options on-site. This is important as 27 percent of the 85 percent who have already made changes are thinking about what they are going to eat more than usual. A well-rounded and comprehensive approach to break room and food safety should play an integral part in creating a safe workplace.

Food and COVID-19 in Atlanta

Employers can also emphasize the importance of risk-reduction practices (hand washing, minimizing contact with surfaces and using wipes and hand sanitizer) at work, especially when it comes to using the break room to purchase snacks, food, and beverages from vending machines or micro-markets. Break room providers can help by openly conveying their COVID-related policies and procedures. Combining education about risk-reduction practices and break room providers’ practices will help employees feel more comfortable purchasing break room items.

Healthy

Since almost a third of participants were snacking more, employers should consider offering additional healthy options to help employees make healthier choices. Better-for-you products are even more important for those employees who have children as 33 percent of participants who are parents (compared to 16 percent without children) are more likely to “eat their feelings” and then feel less satisfied by eating.

But choosing healthier options isn’t just for those with children. With more than 50 percent of the 1,011 survey participants making dietary choices based on health-related goals, access to better-for-you products is important for all Atlanta employees. Of those 50+ percent of survey participants, 47 percent are following a specific diet to lose weight, 40 percent hope to have more energy, 39 percent are changing their physical appearance, 37 percent want to protect long-term health and prevent future health problems, and 36 percent want to prevent weight gain.

Atlanta Break Rooms

Whether it’s adding new items to your refreshment menu or updating your break room with new vending machines or a micro-market, PB&J Vending can help. We offer a wide variety of better-for-you and traditional snacks, fresh food, cold beverages, and office coffee service that can safely meet the refreshment needs of your employees. For more information, please contact us at (877) 820.8363. We look forward to hearing from you.  

Healthy Lunch Habits in Atlanta

Encourage Healthy Lunch Habits at Atlanta Businesses

Healthy Lunch Habits in Atlanta

How healthy is your heart? February may be best known for Valentine’s Day, but it is also American Heart Month, a time for Atlanta individuals to reconsider their diet and exercise habits and the impact those habits have on the health of their heart.

Making good food choices is an important component of developing a healthy lifestyle but expecting to make good food choices all the time is unrealistic. Atlanta individuals should instead be aware of the overall picture or pattern of their diet. 

What does that mean? It’s being aware of the different types of snacks, food and beverages that are consumed. Is an individual eating a variety of nutritious foods from the different food groups? Are the portion sizes appropriate? It’s also noticing which circumstances like stress, fatigue or eating with friends trigger different types of eating patterns including unhealthy ones. 

Lunch time is another event that can impact future food decisions that will be made throughout the rest of the day. A recent survey from the American Heart Association (AHA) and Aramark, a food service company, found that “more than three quarters of those surveyed say they’re more likely to make healthier decisions at other times of the day if they eat healthy at lunch.”

While those numbers are great news for the health of those surveyed, the likelihood that employees will actually eat a healthy lunch is much lower. The same survey also found that “56 percent of employed Americans who typically eat lunch during work struggle to make that meal healthy.” Atlanta employers have just been presented with an opportunity to step in and make a difference in the types of snacks, fresh food and beverages available in the break room

Healthy Lunch Habits in Atlanta

Two additional results from the AHA and Aramark study show that employees are looking for a bit of help; 82 percent of participants believe access to healthy options at work is important, and 68 percent appreciate their employer’s help in becoming healthier. Creating opportunities for regular exercise during the workday is another approach employers can take to help their Atlanta employees become healthier.

Regular exercise not only helps maintain or lose weight, it also improves cardiovascular or heart health. If offering a gym membership or an onsite gym isn’t a realistic employee benefit, there are other ways employees can increase their physical activity during the workday. Taking a walk at lunch, parking further away from the building, using the stairs instead of the elevator and holding walking meetings are just a few ways employees can add a bit more movement to their day.

Employees who choose a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds and lean proteins and increase physical activity often have less stress, more energy and improved confidence. Now that sounds like a benefit for everyone. 

For more information about updating or redesigning your micro-market, pantry service or vending machine refreshment menu to include healthier options, please call PB&J Vending at (877) 820.8363. We look forward to working with you.

Vending Machine Options in Atlanta

Atlanta, Did You See the Bacon Vending Machine?

Vending Machine Options in Atlanta

Students at Ohio State University proved once again that anything can be sold in a vending machine. In December of 2018, the meat science program at Ohio State and the Ohio Pork Council partnered to sell students packets of ready-to-eat bacon for $1 from a vending machine during finals week.

Unexpectedly successful, the students of the meat science program had to restock the machine four to five times per day just to keep up with demand. The fundraiser sold over 275 pounds of bacon in the eight-day period. 

So, how does a stand-alone machine that sells bacon end up on a college campus? Ohio State senior and part-time employee at the Ohio Pork Council, Meghann Winters, suggested it as a way to promote Ohio pork. Since the concept of offering cooked bacon via a vending machine was unheard of, Winters had to purchase an old vending machine and “baconify” it. 

Retrofitting the machine proved to be a challenging process. Per Winters, “Most vending machines are made for candy bars, not necessarily bacon. We had to make sure the packaging didn’t get caught as it was falling out. We also had to find shelf-friendly bacon.”

Vending Machine Options in Atlanta

While a bacon vending machine is definitely unique, and the bacon delicious, that doesn’t mean “traditional” vending machines are boring. In fact, there are a variety of healthy and traditional snacks and beverages as well as fresh food in Atlanta break room vending machines that will satisfy any palate. 

A frequent challenge is drawing attention to the snacks, beverages and fresh food, and encouraging employees to try something new. One way to overcome that hurdle is to host a taste-testing event. Atlanta employees are more likely to try something they’ve never consumed if that item is free. A side benefit of satiated and happier employees is often increased morale and increased productivity. That sounds like a win for everyone.

Whether your break room needs a complete overhaul or just a few updates, PB&J Vending can help. We offer a variety of refreshment services including sought-after, brand name snacks and beverages as well as fresh food in state-of-the-art vending machines. For more information, please contact PB&J Vending at (877) 820.8363.

Vending Machine Options in Atlanta

A Day to Commemorate the Atlanta Vending Machine

Vending Machine Options in Atlanta

March 7 is now an important day for Atlanta residents who have purchased an item from or worked with a vending machine or the products it delivers. National Vending Day, a day of celebration developed by NAMA, is “a point-in-time to recognize vending and the value it provides to millions of consumers, 24/7/365.”

You might be wondering what type of value the vending industry provides. Vending is found in every community in the U.S., is an essential component of the Convenience Services industry and is a big contributor to the Convenience Services nearly $25 billion economic impact. According to NAMA, the Convenience Services industry provides “140,000 good paying jobs with $7.21 billion in wages, [and] pays $3.5 billion taxes at every level of government.” Add in the wide variety of snacks, beverages and fresh food, and it’s easy to see the value.

As we celebrate the vending industry today and look toward the future, let’s pause and look back at a bit of vending machine history.

The concept of a vending machine has been around for a lot longer than most Atlanta residents realize. In fact, the first vending machine was said to have been referenced by the mathematician Hero in 215 BC in Ancient Egypt. In his machine, the user placed a coin in the machine and received holy water. Other important dates include:

1886: U.S. granted several patents for coin-operated dispensers.

1888: Tutti-Frutti gum vending machines were installed in a Atlanta subway station.

1946: The first coffee vending machines were invented.

1950: Refrigerated sandwich vending machines expanded the lunch menu.

1960: Dollar bill changers were added to vending banks, and single-cup coffee vending machines were introduced.

1961: Canned soft drink vending machines offered customers a new beverage option.

1972: Glass-front snack machines were introduced.

1985: Credit card / debit card devices for vending machines were introduced.

1987: First hand-held computers that electronically captured vending data were used, and frozen food vending machines were introduced.

1991: Flavored coffees, espresso and cappuccino were introduced in coffee machines.

1993: First remote wireless transmission of data from machines to warehouses occurred.

Vending Machine Options in Atlanta

How will the next 100+ years change the vending industry? What will the break rooms of the late 21st century look like? While we can’t predict what a future Atlanta break room will look like, we can make sure that the break room of 2019 meets the needs of today’s employees. In additional to traditional and healthy vending, micro-markets and office coffee service are just a couple of the refreshment options that will help create the ultimate break room today.

For more information about updating your current break room or performing a complete makeover, please contact PB&J Vending at 877-820-8363. Let’s celebrate together!

Vending Machine Options in Atlanta

Atlanta, What Can’t Vending Machines Sell?

Vending Machine Options in Atlanta

The answer appears to be nothing. Innovative vending machines found throughout the world sell, rent, and build a wide variety of products including laptops. Since October 2017, over 500 students at Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, MI have rented laptops from a vending machine. While renting a laptop from a vending machine is new in Michigan, there are at least 31 other vending machines in the U.S. and four outside of the U.S. that rent laptops.

A laptop is only one of the many unique products besides snacks and beverages that can be found in vending machines all over the world.  

Bicycles: In a number of cities, both inside the U.S. and abroad, there are automated docking stations or vending machines where a user can rent a RFID (Radio-frequency identification) bike. Once the rider has arrived at their destination, they return the bicycle to another docking station where someone else can rent it.

Electronics: Vending machines that sell electronics are usually located in airports. These machines provide potential customers with a way to purchase items that they might have forgotten or didn’t realize they needed such as headphones, chargers, phones, sim cards, laptops, or mobile hotspots.

3D Printing: While less common, 3D printing vending machines are often found near large universities. The user saves a design on a usb drive or sim card, places the card in the machine, and the machine carves out the model in 3D. University students in Italy took it one step farther and figured out how to convert plastic bottles into smartphone cases using a 3D printing vending machine.

Vending Machine Options in Atlanta

Cars: How about buying a car from a vending machine? And yes, the car is really in the machine. These vending machines, however, are multiple stories high and can hold hundreds of cars. The customer uses an app to choose the vehicle that they want, and the vending machine delivers it.

The vending industry has also benefited from innovative vending machine designs such as the micro-market and healthy vending machines.

Micro-Market: According to the National Automatic Merchandising Association or NAMA, “a micro market is a self-checkout retail food establishment that replaces a bank of vending machines.” It includes an open rack display and/or reach-in refrigerated coolers and/or freezers that holds products with a UPC bar code or an RFID tag. The Atlanta employee pays for their purchase at an unattended kiosk or payment system that is never closed.  

Healthy Vending Machines: Finding a healthy snack or beverage while on the go has gotten easier with the inclusion of vending machines that sell healthy products. Whether your Atlanta employees need to grab a snack before a meeting or are looking for a quick, healthy meal, healthy vending machines provide a variety of options 24-hours per day.

Are you ready to create a high-value break room with innovative vending technology? Micro-markets and healthy vending machines are just a couple of the services that PB&J Vending provides. Upgrade your break room to create the ultimate space with coffee service, pantry service, and a variety of other options. Contact PB&J Vending at 877-820-8363 to learn more.