La Crosse company offers balanced meals from vending machines

Instead of dispensing chips and candy, vending machines at Logistics Health Incorporated (LHI) offer balanced meals.

Employees say they taste great, but they are also helping lower health insurance premiums; making the initiative a win-win for LHI.

Every day, Waterfront Restaurant Chefs chop, clean, mix and plate five star meals.

“Right now we have mustard and fennel crusted pork tenderloin, we also have a walnut chicken salad,” said Libby Spirer, the operating partner at the Waterfront Restaurant.

But they don’t end up in the restaurant. They end up herein Logistics Health Incorporated’s break room.

“We are changing the food environment to make fresh food more accessible to provide it affordably,” said Teresa Pulvermacher, a operations manager at Riverside Corporate Wellness.

In exchange for around $8 LHI employees can get a well balanced lunch via the Knourish Vending machine.

“The meals are controlled in calories, less than 600 calories, there also controlled in saturated fat, sodium; we have to have enough protein to qualify as a substantial meal,” said Kristin Engstrom, a dietitian at Riverside Corporate Wellness.

For three years LHI has worked with nutritionists to remove traditional vending machine food and put healthy choices front and center.

“If you have foods that are available to you right there, that are affordable that are good, that are high quality, your more than likely going to make that choice,” Pulvermacher said.

And it’s paying off healthier options in the work place is one of the ways LHI’s health insurance premium dropped by more than 13 percent this year.

“You have an employee that is more productive, is happier, you are going to retain employees, and you are going to bring more people to your place of employment,” Pulvermacher said.

Officials said this is just the beginning and they are already brainstorming ways to make healthy choices available after and before work, too.

“We want to affect generations not just the employee that we have here,” Pulvermacher said.

One of the ways Riverfront Corporate Wellness is planning on taking healthy options beyond lunch is by cooking up meals that would serve four to six people so busy LHI employees can heat them up for their families after work.