Meet Corner Harvest, Delivering Healthy Meals to a Vending Machine Near You
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What if you could grab a healthy lunch made of superfood-based, locally sourced, nutrient-dense fresh ingredients every day—from a vending machine? Thanks to Corner Harvest, the company serving up salads in jars to hungry health-seekers in Connecticut and New York City, you now can.
When Corner Harvest Founder and CEO Erin Jerde lived in Dubai, she fell in love with a company that created super healthy salads and dressings in jars, which allowed busy, health-conscious people to eat well, even on the go. Though Erin did not have any experience in the food industry—she’s actually a certified nurse practitioner—she saw the dearth of local, healthy, on-the-go meal options as the ideal opportunity to launch a food business, and, armed with the inspiration she found in Dubai, launched Corner Harvest.
She soon partnered with On the Marc catering in Stamford, Connecticut to test nutrient-rich recipes and dressings, and hired Simmer, a New York-based firm, to help design the packaging and market her fledgling business. Fast forward to now, and Corner Harvest is growing in both Connecticut and New York City markets.
“We’ve recently expanded into NYC and will be at Birch Coffee on 27th St. starting after Labor Day! We are also launching two vending machines at Newark Airport and one machine at 1540 Broadway in Times Square. We also just started selling at Buffalo Deli in Brooklyn,” Erin says. In addition to the vending machines, Corner Harvest salads are retailed at coffee shops, juice bars, cafes and delis throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and Fairfield County, Connecticut. Though it may seem like a seamless fit to sell fresh salads-to-go in such locations, finding the perfect retailers was one of the company’s biggest challenges.
“The biggest challenge we have encountered has been pivoting. I went in to this business thinking that fitness locales were going to be our target market, from gyms and cycling studios to CrossFit facilities,” Erin says. “As it turns out, eating is often secondary to fitness; people want to work out and leave. We pivoted, and now we’re focused on retailing at juice bars, grocery stores and coffee shops. Getting into the New York market was also a challenge, but we’re working on standing out by utilizing what makes us different.”
What makes Corner Harvest different is its three retail channels: bulk order, which includes delivery to home or office with orders of 10 salads or more; retail, where salads are sold in cafes, delis and coffee shops; and vending machines, where the wireless interface notifies Erin in real time what to stock and how many. Each vending machine is stocked minimally (75-100) so they sell out, eliminating wastage; they are also refilled daily to ensure freshness. Whatever is not sold in any of the channels is donated to a food pantry in Stamford, Connecticut to provide nutritional meals for those in need.
Erin recognizes the need for responsible consumption as well. All Corner Harvest jars are made of PET BPA-free plastic jars, and consumers are encouraged to “reuse, recycle and recreate” with these dishwasher-safe containers.
With so much momentum behind Corner Harvest, Erin has no plans to slow down anytime soon. “We currently have three superfood-based salads made with free-range grilled chicken, two vegetable salads and one vegan option,” she says, “and we’re working on a seasonal salad for fall, using organic and local ingredients as much as we possibly can.”
New recipes aren’t the only thing on Erin’s mind. “My goal is to have these vending machines in hospitals, both for families and for the hospital staff,” she shares. “Too often, hospitals don’t have healthy food options, and that needs to change.” If anyone can enact that change, it’s certain to be this nurse practitioner/fitness fanatic/food-business entrepreneur. With Erin’s drive and vision, Corner Harvest might just be coming to a corner—and a vending machine—near you… and soon.
Need more healthy lunch options? Check out these three delivery services in NYC that make it easy to eat healthy on the go.