Canadian Manufacturing

SFU launches sustainable SmartVending solution for students

UpMeals acquires Grubgrab to support launch in post secondary institutions as a part of the return to campus

July 7, 2021  by CM Staff

Rendering of UpMeals SmartVending solution at SFU campus (CNW Group/UpMeals)

VANCOUVER, BC — UpMeals, a sustainable vending machine solution, announced that it has partnered with Simon Fraser University (SFU) to install a SmartVending machine at the Burnaby campus this fall.

SFU will install their first UpMeals SmartVending machine at the West Mall Centre, one of the busiest and most accessible locations on the Burnaby campus, with plans for more machines in the future. The installation will coincide with the move back to in-person classes and services on campus.

“We’re so excited to see that our streamlined UpMeals solution can disrupt an older food accessibility model and provide affordable, 24/7 healthy food options designed specifically based on student preferences,” Drew Munro, Co-Founder and CEO of UpMeals, said in a prepared statement. “The machines will be stocked fresh daily in a single trip, so we’ll also be helping to reduce the carbon footprint of the institutions and students, providing a much more sustainable solution.”

The UpMeals SmartVending install addresses a critical need to provide safe, accessible, healthy food options for students available around the clock. Accessible 24/7, UpMeals provides a nutritious choice when other options are unavailable or closed. And, with meal delivery services making many trips to SFU campuses daily, sometimes delivering as little as a single item carrying a hefty carbon footprint, the UpMeals SmartVending machines will alleviate some of the environmental impact. SFU will be donating their surplus of unsold food through UpMeals’ partnership with the Vancouver Food Runners program to help eliminate food waste.

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The menu offerings provided in the SmartVending machines will be curated based on a focused survey provided to groups of students identifying the types of cuisine they would like to see, and the goals and benefits they want to achieve with the food available to them. Details of the survey will include dietary and cuisine preferences and eating habits. SFU will then be able to monitor the popularity of certain items and identify buying trends to optimize their menu offering.

To support this expansion, UpMeals has acquired Grubgrab, a digital meal subscription service geared toward post secondary students. Grubgrab had previously engaged UpMeals to support in centralizing their food sourcing under the Grubgrab brand. The COVID-19 pandemic forced them to pivot their business model to make access points safe, facilitating the acquisition by UpMeals.