These Vending Machines Give The Homeless Free Food https://t.co/CSkordmEXo
“There is a critical need for access to food and clothing outside the capacity that shelters can offer,” Huzaifah Khaled, founder of Action Hunger, the nonprofit that installed the machine and is planning a series of others, writes in an email to Fast Company. In the U.K., as in many other countries, shelters often have very limited operating budgets and are only accessible for a small part of each day.
[Photo: Action Hunger]“It requires the homeless to schedule their days around visits to the shelter, making it hard to hold a stable job or see family regularly,” he says. “Our vending machines offer 24/7 access, so they can be used at a person’s convenience–and completely free of charge.”
Action Hunger partners with other homeless organizations to hand out the cards. In Nottingham, it worked with a group called The Friary, a day center for the homeless that has been in operation for 30 years. With a card, someone can access three items each day. But to continue using it, they need to check in each week at a partner organization. Khaled recognizes that the machines–like a related “Little Free Pantry” project in the U.S.–are only a temporary solution.
“The idea is that users don’t become dependent on the machines, and are working towards a long-term plan for getting off the streets,” Khaled says. “I want our low-cost vending machines to complement other existing services, as I believe continued engagement with local services is key to ending the cycle of homelessness, and linking the use of our cards to continued engagement with these services is a way I believe we can ensure that. It will ensure contact is sustained, and hopefully for long enough for their homelessness to be curbed altogether. ”