BUSINESS
08/20/2014 06:05 pm ET | Updated Aug 28, 2014

Yesterday's News Stands Are Becoming Tomorrow's Healthy Eating Hotspots

Courtesy of e.a.t.

While a bustling city might not feel complete without a trusty newsstand, for many modern day 9-to-5ers, finding the latest power lunch is a bigger priority than finding the latest periodical.

With that reality in mind, the Chicago-based nonprofit e.a.t. is repurposing out-of-use newsstands into havens for healthy food.

"Our mission is to impact local food systems through education, agriculture and technology and we are doing that through social ventures, like e.a.t. spots, that have far-reaching implications," founder Ken Waagner told The Huffington Post via email.

E.a.t. (short for "education, agriculture and technology") opened the first of four planned "e.a.t. spots" Monday in downtown Chicago, with more planned for September.

The kiosks feature items like sandwich wraps, savory scrambles and kale salads priced between $4 to $7, as well as produce largely sourced from local farms.

While the stands are opening in a part of the city where healthy food options like salad bars and smoothies are plentiful, Waagner said the goal isn't to make a "boutiquey" kiosk targeting only well-heeled clientele; the project is working to accept cards for the Illinois version of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program card.

"We want it to be for everybody," Waagner told DNAinfo Chicago.

The kiosks are staffed by members of StreetWise, a workforce development group that helps homeless find steady employment. Before the installation of the e.a.t. spots, StreetWise vendors sold fresh produce throughout the city (including food deserts) from mobile "Neighbor Carts."

"This ability for low-cost, high-quality, healthy food — it's a big draw," Streetwise Executive Director Jim LoBianco told DNAinfo Chicago. "That's what we saw from the mobile produce carts, how likely people are to stop and buy healthy food if it's immediately accessible."

Waagner said the immediate focus for the e.a.t. spots are the two downtown kiosks with the future goal of expanding in 2015 and ultimately "sharing best practices that can be applied and implemented nationally.”

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

  • 1 Freshly Baked Pizza Vending Machine
    Facebook / Let's Pizza
    "The world's first pizza vending machine" cooks an individual pie with the topping of your choice in less than three minutes. The machine uses an infra-red oven contains enough ingredients for 200 pizzas before needing to be replenished.
  • 2 Farm Fresh Eggs Vending Machine
    Flickr / JoshBerglund19
    These fresh egg dispensing vending machines are set up by local farmers along the road in Japan. The machine can also be found at Glaum Egg Ranch outside of Santa Cruz, where 24 cage-free chicken eggs can be purchased for three dollars.
  • 3 Caviar Vending Machine
    Facebook / Beverly Hills Caviar
    This LA-based luxury vending machine is quite an enigma. It's a very good thing this machine accepts credit cards: An ounce of quality fish eggs can cost up to $500.
  • 4 Burrito Vending Machine
    Facebook / Burritobox Official
    This burrito kiosk serves up freshly prepped burritos in 60 seconds. You can choose between chicken, steak and a vegan veggie burrito (there are even two breakfast options). If you want guac or sour cream on the side, it's yours.
  • 5 Burger Vending Machine
    Flickr / mwbwallace
    When it's 4 a.m. and there's no McDonald's in sight, you can cut out the middle man by enjoying a burger from one of these Febo dispensers in the Netherlands. Through the little windows you'll spot burgers, croquettes, fried chicken and more.
  • 6 Lettuce Vending Machine
    Dentu
    If you've ever wondered if lettuce can be grown without sunlight, the answer appears to be yes. Japan's "portable garden" called the Chef's Farm uses fluorescent bulbs to churn out 60 heads of lettuce per day.
  • 7 Hot Nosh Kosher Vending Machine
    Flickr / Scott Beale
    When you're in a "kosher emergency," as the Times puts it, the Hot Nosh 24/6 comes to the rescue. The machine serves up glatt kosher bites like knishes, veggie cutlets and hot dogs.
  • 8 Cupcake ATM
    Facebook / Sprinkles Cupcake
    This cupcake dispensing ATM stocks up to 760 cupcakes at a time with up to 20 varieties. There are even flavors for dogs to enjoy.
  • 9 Live Crab Vending Machine
    Flickr / vanhalligan
    If you're seeking hairy crabs and all the shops are closed, you'll be happy to stumble upon one of these machines in China. Inside, the contraption is kept at a temperature of five to 10 degrees celsius to preserve the crabs in a dormant state.
  • 10 Banana Vending Machine
    Imgur
    A banana's peel protects it from bruising and getting squished, so this dispenser is basically like banana armor. With a cardboard box and plexiglass to shelter the fruit, you can feel confident your banana is in tip top shape.
  • 11 French Fry Vending Machine
    PRNewsFoto/Beyondte Electronics Co.,Limited
    In 95 seconds, a serving of French fries can be yours, and you don't even have to forgo the ketchup (phew).
  • 12 Hot Dog Vending Machine
    Flickr / mr_c0w
    You want a hot dog and you want it now. That's fair. In under a minute, you can have your freshly grilled hot dog delivered on a freshly toasted bun.
  • 13 Canned Bread Vending Machine
    Imgur
    Bread in a can is the new sliced bread wrapped in plastic. Find it in Japan.
  • 14 Mashed Potato Vending Machine
    Tumblr / The Clearly Dope
    7-Eleven's mashed potato dispenser takes convenience to another planet. The "modified Slurpee machine" dispenses liquid 'tato that can be dressed with chicken, gravy or both.
  • 15 Fresh Salad Vending Machine
    This healthy kiosk is stocked with a fresh array of salads and snacks that are mostly organic and made with locally grown produce. Even better? Whatever is not purchased from the Farmer's Fridge by the end of the day is donated to the local food pantry.
  • 16 Raw Milk Vending Machine
    Flickr / justeimages
    Unpasteurized dairy sold from machines can be found all over Europe. These machines are particularly controversial, especially since raw milk laws in the U.S. have become more highly regulated.
  • 17 Ramen Instant Noodle Vending Machine
    Flickr / lowsrc
    This machine found in Japan is equipped with hot water. Should this be renamed Instant Instant Ramen?
  • 18 Fresh Baguette Vending Machine
    A freshly baked French baguette never appeared so oxymoronic until it was dispensed from a vending machine. A French baker designed this contraption so his customers could enjoy fresh bread at all hours of the day.

CONVERSATIONS