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Employee Cracks Snack Conundrum

When Kate Botner tried to find healthier fare to fill Kaiser Permanente employee vending machines in Kern County, she hit a wall.

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Swapping out corn chips and candy for whole wheat crackers and dried fruit doesn’t seem like it would be a daunting task, but when Kate Botner tried to find healthier fare to fill Kaiser Permanente employee vending machines in Kern County, she hit a wall.

Botner, who works for Kaiser Permanente’s Clinical Documentation and Audit Operations in Bakersfield, didn’t give up easily. Then she saw a local news story about Daryn Embry, a young man with developmental disabilities, who owns a local vending machine company called Daryn’s Home Run Vending. Botner tracked him down to see if he could help.

“I was determined. When I saw Daryn’s photo, I was first drawn to his winning smile, which led me to click on the link to the story,” Botner said. “I love it when I hear about stories of small businesses becoming successful.  I am so honored to know Daryn and Matt.  Our employees love seeing them when they come to the buildings.”

Botner arranged for a meeting between Embry and another entrepreneur with disabilities, Matt Silvius, and together, they’ve become the “vending machine kings” of Kaiser Permanente Kern County, dividing the workload. They’ve installed new vending machines in all 10 facilities and, with Botner’s guidance, keep them well stocked with healthy, tasty snacks.

“I saw this as an opportunity to do something good for our community, for these two terrific men and for us,” Botner said. “Everybody wins!”

Photo: Matt Silvius, left; and Daryn Embry, right.