Jan. 27 2016 11:03 AM

Local entrepreneur offers healthy snack options

We’ve all been there. You’re trying to eat better, but, because of circumstances or poor planning, you find yourself famished and the only food source is the office/hotel/school vending machine. Now you must resist the siren song of salty potato chips and chocolaty goodies and hope that the bottom shelf has a granola bar or some other semblance of healthy food.

Sam Dalman is trying to change that. The Lansing-based entrepreneur is working with Fresh Healthy Vending, a California-based company that franchises customized vending machines stocked with healthier snacking options. He’s hoping the machines will help Greater Lansing residents make better food decisions.

“I think it’s important for all of us to start getting healthier,” he said.

The machines have a dual-zone set-up that allows them to hold both refrigerated and non-refrigerated products. The snack options include organic granola bars, low-fat chips and fruit snacks. Beverage options include real fruit juices and low-fat milk. There are several gluten-free and nut-free options available. Ranging from $1 to $2, the items are not much more expensive than typical vending machine fare.

Dalman, who lives “on the border of DeWitt and Lansing,” was looking for a new business venture after retiring from the military in 2010.

“I retired way too young,” he said. “After about 90 days, I realized I needed to do something.”

Dalman, 50, took on some real estate investments (he is a licensed Realtor and does some work for his brother’s office, Dalman Realty), and he opened IScream, an ice cream parlor in DeWitt, in 2013. Then a friend from Grand Rapids turned him on to Fresh Healthy Vending.

Dalman started researching the company in September. By December, he had installed his first two vending machines at Summit Sport and Ice Complex (9410 Davis Highway, Dimondale) and Aim High Sports (7977 Centerline Road, Dimondale). So far, Dalman has been pleased with the response.

“The early success makes me want to order more machines,” he said.

He is planning to install his third machine this week at Dentco, a DeWitt-based business that coordinates landscaping, snow removal and other exterior services for businesses, and he’s talking to Greater Lansing school districts about getting machines in local high schools. He’s also looking at Greater Lansing’s insurance industry, noting that many businesses are pushing employee health initiatives.

Citing growing rates of childhood obesity and diabetes in the U.S., Dalman said that running a business that gives customers healthy snacking options is something he is proud of.

“It fit everything I was looking for,” he said. “And it’s something that gives back to the community.”