Healthy U Vending: Healthy and Convenient
When you think of vending machines, healthy options aren’t normally the first things that come to mind. There is, however, a company located in McHenry that is trying to change that.
Healthy U Vending is offering a new twist to snacking on the go. “The idea really came from the food choices we made at home,” said T Hephner, founder and president of Healthy U.
“We started eating organically ourselves and it kind of escalated from there. I started thinking, how can I bring that to the customer in a sustainable business?”
A big inspiration for starting the company, Hephner said, was to give his children an opportunity to eat healthy at school and at home.
Machines are currently in 45 locations around the Chicago area, including in all four high schools in Crystal Lake School District 155. Carol Alfus, life skills and special education teacher at Crystal Lake Central, said the machines are helping students make better food choices.
“I think it’s important to have those healthy choices available to kids,” Alfus said. “If all you have is junk food – the high sugar, high fat – that’s what they’ll eat. And especially with the high sugar stuff, you get the crash afterwards, which is not good in terms of energy and attention throughout the day.”
Hephner said right now schools are demanding most machines, but interest is growing elsewhere. “There is huge demand right now,” Hephner said. “A lot of people are interested in this type of healthy eating because it’s so convenient.”
With most of the machines located around McHenry County, Hephner wanted to make sure there were local products being sold in those machines. A few examples of local food found in the machines from around McHenry County are Olive Oil Popcorn and Mother’s Cupboard.
“We’re hoping to do more direct business with local companies,” he said.
The idea is starting to catch on nationally. Hephner said he is working as a consultant to those interested in starting a business like Healthy U around the country.
Helping People Live Better
Hephner’s background also tells a tale of trying to help people live better. Before starting Healthy U, he was a partner in a patient recruitment company for pharmaceutical clinical trials.
“We would get people interested in trying out being in the clinical trial for the drug before it was approved by the FDA,” Hephner said. “After I sold my share back to my partners I was looking to do something I really wanted to do.”
Where to find Healhy U machines in the county:
- Medela Inc., 1101 Corporate Dr. in McHenry
- Layton Athletics, 5402 Austin Ct. in Ringwood
- Your World Fitness, 2222 Pierce Dr. in Spring Grove
- 1st Institute, 790 S McHenry Ave. in Crystal Lake
- Cary Grove High School, 2208 3 Oaks Rd.
- Crystal Lake Central High School, 45 West Franklin St.
- Crystal Lake South High School, 1200 S McHenry Ave.
- Prairie Ridge High School, 6000 Dvorak Dr. in Crystal Lake
- Cary Gymnastics, 600 Industrial Dr.
- Baxter & Woodman, 8678 Ridgefield Rd. in Crystal Lake
>> For more, visit www.healthyuvending.com or call 888-827-3235 (ext. 101).