Healthy eating made easy
Shea Coakley ’07 is providing nutritious food to customers while feeding those in need through his company, LeanBox.
By Kaitlin Dunn ’16
When you only have half an hour for lunch, it’s hard to find something to eat. You can go out and grab a burger or sandwich at a fast food chain, but more likely than not, you won’t even bother to leave the office and end up eating stale Cheetos and a Dr. Pepper from a vending machine instead—for the third time in a week.
But what if there was a way to get nutritious, reasonably priced food right from your office vending machine? This is exactly what Shea Coakley ’07 is trying to ensure with his company, LeanBox.
LeanBox provides offices, hospitals and gyms with food kiosks stocked with healthy foods, including quick snacks like caffeine-infused brownies and full meals like miso glazed salmon and stuffed roasted chicken. Coakley and his business partner, Peter Roy, formed the company more than a year ago as they realized the need to have nutritional food conveniently located in workplaces.
“People don’t eat right for three reasons,” says Coakley, who majored in leisure and sport management at Elon. “Healthy food is expensive. Healthy food might not fit your taste buds and it’s often inconvenient, especially when you’re in a rush. We try to solve all three of those issues with LeanBox.”
The company serves the New England area but Coakley plans to expand soon, exploring franchising options and future hubs. Companies such as Amazon, Wayfair and the U.S. Army are among clients. In all there are more than 100 LeanBox kiosks in various businesses. Each machine is restocked with fresh offerings three to five times a week so the company can see what is selling and what is not. “Every office is different, and we work with them individually,” Coakley says. “We survey each office to see their wants and needs, and we can alter what we put into each box.”
LeanBox uses local startup companies to provide the food, and Coakley says he wants to be able to provide a platform for products that otherwise wouldn’t be available in major markets. There are about 10 people employed by LeanBox, a number Coakley believes will double when it expands. He is always looking at his alma mater for inspiration and support—the company hired an Elon intern last summer.
“Elon opened my eyes to thinking about the world in a really unique way,” Coakley says. “It taught me that the world is a place that can be changed for the better. It was never just about the numbers and letters at Elon, it was about how the lessons can translate into improving the lives of people around you.”
It’s not surprising that serving the community has been a priority for LeanBox. For every $10 spent at any of its kiosks, the company donates the cost equivalent of a meal to the Greater Boston Food Bank. And all the food left in the machines near its expiration date is donated to local food banks and soup kitchens.
“If there is one thing Elon taught me, it was the idea of giving back to the community,” Coakley says. “My business partner and I knew from day one that we wanted this company to be about giving healthy food to the customers and feeding those in need. As our business grows, so will our ability to help those
Learn more about LeanBox at eatlean.com.