Smart Vending Arrives at SFU

By Lucas Westhaver

Three new smart-vending options are now available at Burnaby Campus: Sally the Robot, UpMeals' SmartVending and My Lil' HealthBot are all working to revolutionize food, health and personal care accessibility at SFU.

My Lil' HealthBot: Looking to the Future of Campus Pharmacies

Safe, convenient access to everyday necessities is a must for any campus, and SFU is no different. The innovators at Robot Retailing noticed a trend amongst North American universities: over 18.4 million students live more than 10 minutes from a drug store or retail alternative. In response, they partnered with numerous institutions to provide around-the-clock access to a selection of over 60 necessities, browsable through their dedicated app and available for cashless purchase and pickup from My Lil’ HealthBot smart-kiosks like the one at Burnaby campus in the South Hall of the AQ.

Product categories include cold relief, grooming products, household cleaning and more, all accessible without the need to leave campus - no matter the time of day or night. With a growing user-base of students across North America, it's clear that My Lil' HealthBot is serving an acute need in our campus communities.


SmartVending: Sustainable Meals from UpMeals and GrubGrab

UpMeals and their SmartVending machines are on a mission to provide a sustainable, healthy and accessible alternative to traditional meal delivery services. Their catered selection, available 24/7 in the West Mall Centre and Discovery 1, provides a variety of affordable, healthy meals in ecologically responsible packaging. Social responsibility is at the forefront of UpMeals' operation, so they've partnered with Vancouver Food Runners to donate surplus unsold food to aid those experiencing food insecurity. Upmeals acquired local graduate startup GrubGrab - a fellow innovator in the digital meal-subscription space - in order to facilitate their new expansion to SFU. 

Drew Munro, UpMeals CEO and Co-Founder, can't wait to see how SmartVending aid nutritional access and sustainability:

“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. 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.”


Sally the Robot: The On-Demand Salad Bar from Chowbotics

The Lower Mainland's first 'Sally the Robot' is now operational in the South Hall of the AQ. The robotic vendor from DoorDash acquisition Chowbotics offers up to 22 fresh ingredients in customizable, chef-crafted salad and grain bowls. Detailed nutritional data ensures that every meal meets a given visitor's dietary needs and preferences, while robotics technology ensures that every bowl is perfect, 24 hours a day. With over 350 locations nationwide, it's no surprise that Chowbotics was named one of "The World's Most Innovative Companies in Robots" by Fast Company in 2019. 

Sid Mehta, Senior Director of Ancillary Services at SFU, supports improving accessibility to healthy food options around our campuses:

“Smart vending machines, like Sally the Robot, are part of an ongoing effort to improve access to healthy food options around Burnaby campus. We know that today’s students need to fuel their learning 24/7, and we are working hard to align with their needs.”