It Took A Decade And A Passionate Mission To Feed More Kids - Today, 5 Million Reimbursable Meals Are Served Each School Year, Thanks To Star Food Healthy Express

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Star Food Announces A Ten Year Milestone Feeding 5 Million Student Across USA

In 2007, using a vending machine at public schools meant chips and candy. That’s when the team at Star Food went to government officials and decision makers and laid groundwork in 2007 that changed how vending could serve healthy, USDA compliant, reimbursable meals in schools across the country.

Today, a decade later, due in large part to the efforts of school nutritionists, parents, and the team at Star Food Healthy Express, more than 5 million reimbursable meals are being served each school year through more than 500 Star Food reimbursable meal vending machines.

In 36 states, and growing, it takes less than 20 seconds for a student to punch in their student number and receive a USDA compliant, multi-component meal, some designed by top Chefs. Star Food can serve free or reduced cost breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks – all managed by the foodservice professionals at the schools.

“It’s just the beginning, there are kids who are eligible for reimbursable meals and looking for a good meal and working with our school partners, we’re going to make sure they get fed,” said Joe Gilbert, VP/GM of VE South, the parent company of Star Food Healthy Express.

The latest research shows that the one-time cost of a single Star Food machine can be paid off in the first school year as the volume of reimbursable meals goes up 25 to 30%.

The average Star Food machine feeds 50 or more meals during each daypart, each day of the school calendar year.

“We’re feeding more kids healthy food, increasing the revenue for the school and not increasing labor costs,” said Gilbert.

“Our experience with adding Star Food machines in cafeterias in our district was that many of the students who got their reimbursable meals from the machines were students who had not been coming to the cafeteria before. The increase in meals served was incremental right from the first day the machines were installed,” said Art Dunham, now retired director of Food Service, Pinellas County, FL where he was responsible for feeding more than 104,000 students daily.

“Over the years we added more machines in more schools and kept seeing the same results; students who chose not come eat the cafeterias due to long lines or time constraints were now able to get their lunches quickly and easily. Grab and go salads, sandwiches with fresh fruits and dairy products became popular through vending. We saw students eating with us that had never done so before,” said Dunham.

Research findings on how to feed more kids:

  • Kids will eat if they have access
  • Near the bus stop
  • Close to sporting venues
  • In congregation areas
  • Visual, appetizing, high-tech and easy all attract kids to reimbursable meal vending machines

Top reasons schools choose vending:

  • Schools increase revenue when more kids eat
  • Cashless systems work with POS and avoid vandalism issues
  • Grades improve, absenteeism declines
  • Many community organizations, local chefs, farmers, and food producers want to help.

VE South has established a nonprofit to help donors and schools come together. Feed More Kids is a 501 3C organization, registered with the IRS and located in the State of Florida.


Star Food Healthy Express, which began in 2007, is the leader in reimbursable meal machines in the United States.

Parent company VE South is based in Fort Lauderdale Florida at 4800 NW 15th Avenue, Suite B, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309. Contact information: 877-857-3663 x1 and

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Laura Phillips Bennett
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