When Luke Saunders was driving a thousand miles a week as a traveling salesman, he was frustrated by the lack of fresh, healthy food. Wouldn’t it be nice, he thought, if there were vending machines that dispensed fresh salads and other good-for-you foods. That’s how Farmer’s Fridge was born, and the distinctive salads in a jar, wraps, fruit, yogurt and other items are now available across 42 states, not only in smart fridges, but in retail stores and via home delivery. The pandemic wiped out over 80% of Farmer’s Fridge’s business, but by adding the retail and home delivery channels, Saunders told WGN’s Steve Alexander he was able to keep all his employees, and the lost business was recovered in just a few months. Built in to the company’s DNA is giving back to the community, demonstrated by the one million-plus meals that have been donated since it started business, and a special effort during the pandemic to feed front line workers when hospital cafeterias were shut down.
How a traveling salesman's desire for fresh food turned into a nationwide network of unique vending machines