Founder - Zaakvoerder, Foods4U bvba
Fresh and Fair Trade vending to your employees’ round-the-clock catering demands
Imagine your company offering its employees a high quality three-course meal and drinks throughout the working day without having to worry about the catering.
It has always been a challenge for companies and institutions with hundreds of employees to worry about how to offer their staff easy access to a variety of fresh, exciting food and drinks during breaks. This is especially true at lunch time, when you are faced with an orchestra of empty, growling stomachs in the hunt for something that fills that gap. More than that, they crave for food that also makes them feel great about themselves, invites lunchtime conversation about their health, lifestyle, the environment, their holiday plans, and more. Now, that’s a very colourful lunch break on your premises, yet it’s a world away from work.
As an employer, your office is not always located in an area with a pool of shops and restaurants. There is also the issue of the time wasted when employees go out in search of lunch, and need to return in a timely manner for the rest of the day’s work. There is the option of in-house catering, where you do get what you pay for, and there are some high-end services out there. But ask a handful of people about their in-company catering experiences, and what you get is a mixed bag of opinions. For example, you get complaints about food taste, some about preference or variety, value for money, limited opening times (usually 12 noon to 3pm), no catering for night shifts, the list is endless.
Let us not leave out ordering lunch from a shop or online before 10am, while you are still trying to digest breakfast, and begin to focus on a new day’s work. And come lunchtime, you have to feel sorry for your poor receptionist who has to take in all those lovely aromas of deliveries, all at once, and in some cases will have to oversee distribution!
Consider the idea of your company or institution with a vending machine that offers a three-course meal. With such a machine, you can expect your employees to enjoy fresh soup as a starter (soup is very popular here in Belgium), a pre-packed reheatable meal as a main course, and fruity yoghurt as dessert. What is more, in the same vending machine are a whole range of Fair Trade and Bio products ranging from fruit juices, to exotic snacks (fruity, chocolate-fruit, nuts, etc.) from all around the world. Also available in the same machine are energy snacks and drinks, for which there is a growing demand from staff that need an energy boost first thing in the morning or for those who choose to do fitness during lunchtime.
For such a rich variety of foods and drinks, that’s what I call ‘VendCatering’ - well suited for offices, factories and institutions including hospitals, health insurance, some of which already enjoy such a service today.
And what if you don’t have to lift a finger because of a full vending service on offer? All you have to do as an employer is to make a determined effort to pay a minimal cost for the vending consumption per employee per day to the vending service provider. This minimal charge (for the full vending service) goes towards encouraging a new Fresh and Fair Trade lifestyle approach for your employees.
How does it work?
Once you choose this cost (or credit) approach, a specially programmed ‘Fresh & Fair Trade’ credit card will be issued by the vending service provider to all your employees. Each card will have your company’s minimal daily credit already programmed on it. This way, each employee can use their daily credit to take products from the vending machine. It is encouraged that your company pays a minimal credit per employee towards at least one healthy product per day. Experience shows that this minimal credit from the employer encourages their employees to add their own money onto the credit card (via upload at the vending machine). This credit card is unique to the VendCatering project.
For your employees, such a complete vending offering would translate into: direct access to what they need to consume, when they need it (24/7), and with no need to involve you in catering (time and cost savings). You don’t even need to worry about the machine running out of stock because as part of the full vending service, the provider can monitor the consumption electronically, and fill it up accordingly. And product offerings in the machine will be varied according to consumption.
This way, your company can boast a living, breathing Fresh and Fairtrade catering policy, for which implementation is immediate from day one of the project. Your company can then sit back and watch your employees enjoy, discuss and share your new policy within and outside your organisation, with a Fresh and Fairtrade credit card to show for it.
Foods4U bvba is specialized in 'Fresh and Fair Trade' vending in the workplace.(Thinking of a similar concept for your hotels? Read our previous article titled ‘Vending to your hotel guest’s catering needs’)
By Silvester Adegbotolu, Founder – Director Foods4U bvba, Mechelen, Belgium