While traveling back and forth between her native Santa Barbara and the Bay Area — sometimes with her young daughter along for the ride — Angela Cosentino often found herself in airports during odd hours, unable to find “good food to get on the go.” Last January, she said good-bye to her 15-year career in corporate communications to focus on that simple premise, recently launching Santa Barbara Smart Snacks with her fiancé, Chuck Stumpf.
Their Smart Snacks vending machines are loaded with “anything you normally can’t find” in a typical bus depot, hospital lobby, or public school system, Cosentino explained, referring to her menu of healthy, great-tasting alternatives. Instead of corn chips, candy bars, and sugary soft drinks, Smart Snacks delivers non-GMO snack bars, multigrain crackers, and refrigerated low-calorie drinks, among other quick meals and entrée items, some of which — such as Santa Barbara Bar — are locally sourced. Smart Snacks also serves up vegan and gluten-free choices, she added, without compromising taste.
While their selections align with community sentiments on good health from good food, the Smart Snacks machines themselves exemplify vending of the enlightened sort. For example, with the keypad, customers can peruse calorie counts before purchasing items. Also, the machines are Energy Star rated, remotely monitored through e-management software, and equipped with a small LCD display for promotional and informational videos.
As business picks up, Cosentino knows she’ll have to steadily restock her vending machines. But that sure beats getting stuck in an airport with nothing good to eat.