In November 2017, HBC made the decision to remove the vending machines from our main office in favor of an in-house break room that would allow for more and healthier options to be made available to our staff and visitors during break and meal times.
Prior to the transition, there was one full size refrigerator for staff that brought their lunches or snacks from home, and 2 vending machines containing typical items such as soda, chips, cookies and candy. The closest option to a meal was “cup of noodles”.
The new “Healthy by Choice Pantry” contains 2 refrigerators for perishable items and beverages and 2 racks for items not needing to be kept cold. Food options made available in the Pantry refrigerators include string cheese, yogurt, Greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs, Lunchables, and cheese and nut snack packs. We also stock frozen meals in the freezer. As the weather warms, we plan to add frozen yogurt and other like snacks. We added options for beverages such as milk, V8, bottled water, and fruit juice. We were also able to make available fresh fruit, raisins, popcorn, granola bars, breakfast bars, and more. The refrigerator for staff to bring food from home was also retained.
We recognized that in this transition, we would not get buy-in from the staff if we removed all the items that were previously available under the old system. We did keep some of the less healthy options knowing that people would not always make the healthy choice, but at least now, they would have the option. We did, however, switch from full size candy bars to the fun size, so an employee could have a little sweet without feeling compelled to finish a whole bar.
Payment for items in the Pantry is on the honor system and so far, it has been successful and is self-sustaining. A cash box is available with a small amount of cash so that employees can make change when necessary. The box is emptied of most of the revenue each evening, leaving just a small amount of money so the Pantry always open for business. Pricing for items has been made very generic so that we don’t have to re-price everything each time we add a new option.
Each week, the pantry is inventoried and restocked, removing any of the perishable foods that have passed their prime and replenishing items that have sold.
In January, we sent out a survey to see how the HBC Pantry was being received. We have approximately 55 employees at our main office location and we received 25 responses. On a scale of 1-5, we were rated at a 4 or better by most of the respondents. When asked if respondents preferred the old vending options or the new Pantry, the Pantry was the clear winner.
We hope to continue to grow and evolve the program, taking into consideration feedback we receive and new ideas and opportunities that come along.
Feedback received from the survey:
“Best idea ever, love the Pantry and I buy something at least 3x a week if not more.”
“…the selection is great; thanks for the work and I hope it is sustainable.”