Craving something smart; local company offers healthy vending choices

by Michael Short on February 24, 2011

By Michael Short

When those hunger pangs hit, you don’t have to blow your diet.

A brother and sister from Millsboro have started a healthy vending machine company to keep diets from being blown, belts from expanding and children from becoming part of a national obesity travesty.

It’s called Crave Smart and it’s the idea of Kristi Gamuciello and Ryan Stuart. Instead of candy bars and sugary drinks, the Crave Smart machines offer fruit snacks, low-fat organic chocolate milk, granola, juice, beef jerky, iced tea, white cheddar popcorn and other snacks and drinks that are lower in calories and sugar with no trans fat.

All the items sold meet the standards of Fit Pick, which means the snacks meet nutritional criteria that limit fat, saturated fat and sugar. All of the items in the machines meet those Fit Pick standards, except for nuts and seeds (which are excluded from the standards).

The company is still very small, but the two have some very big ideas about how to change the way we snack. Kristi developed the idea after health issues forced her to lose weight. She shed 60 pounds and her brother shed 30 pounds.

Ryan is an EMT and Kristi is a health coach.

When they focused on cutting calories and eating smart, they started to think about their children and how to better feed their families. Each has three children and they know the routine of being on the run with a million errands sandwiched between soccer practice and piano lessons.

That means parents are looking for something fast and easy that doesn’t cost too much. With fast food on every corner and racks of candy at every checkout, it’s easy to find yourself loading up on calories and fat.

Healthy options just aren’t as easy or quick to find, Kristi said. So, Crave Smart aims to make healthy snacks accessible, easy and convenient. “You can’t make a healthy choice if it’s not there,” Ryan said.

So, an idea for healthy vending machines that offer affordable snacks was born. So far, only one vending machine has been placed. That is located in Cheryl’s Dance Alley in Millsboro.

But the couple hope hospitals, fitness centers, businesses, schools and even the police will be interested in getting machines.

“We definitely didn’t do this to get rich quick,” said Ryan. “If that was what we wanted, we would be selling candy.”

“I wanted to do some type of business that was focused on health,” Kristi said.

“The kids were kind of our first taste testers,” she joked.

The pair also wanted to do more than just have a healthy vending machine. They wanted it to be green and they wanted it to be made in America. They succeeded on both counts. The machines they chose are designed to be very energy efficient, so that they only use about as much energy as your home refrigerator.

Snack prices are comparable to traditional sodas and chips with beef jerky being the most expensive of the 29 different offerings. “It’s healthy and affordable,” said Ryan. “It’s nice that they (parents) don’t have to worry about what their kids are eating.”

While they have started small, they said the reaction has been very positive. “People are loving it,” Kristi said.

“It’s been overwhelming,” added Ryan.

For more information about Crave Smart or to order a vending machine, call  542-2575 or 542-4252. Businesses can customize the offerings in each machine and it costs nothing to have a machine placed in your office or business except for a few extra dollars of electricity, she said.

You can also go online to cravesmart.com or email them at CraveSmartLLC@gmail.com.

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