Photo Courtesy of geo.tv
A new vending machine installed in a shopping center connected to a train station in Nottingham, England, doesn’t carry what a normal vending machine would. Inside, it has essentials for the homeless including socks, toothbrushes, toothpaste, pre-made sandwiches, antibacterial ointment, socks, clothing, protein bars, water, and more, according to Mother Nature network (MNN).
Installed in early December 2017, these machines are restocked by volunteers every morning, according to Washington Post.
This machine only accepts special key cards made for the homeless; it doesn’t accept cash or credit cards. When Action Hunger distributes these cards, the people who get them don’t have to pay anything. Action Hunger is a group “…committed to alleviating poverty and hardship amongst the homeless,” Actionhunger.com stated. People with these key cards can only buy three items a day so they do not become dependent on the vending machine.
In the United Kingdom, the homeless often spend many hours in train stations because of the free shelter, especially during wet or cold weather. In an interview with the Matador Messenger, Huzaifah Khaled, the creator of these vending machines, explained that when he became friends with a few of the homeless he, “…developed an acute understanding of their needs, and learned that even access to basic necessities like food and water was sporadic and oftentimes cumbersome, with many shelters for the homeless having fairly disparate opening hours (which is not a reflection on the shelters, I should add, since funding is so scarce).”
Khaled then emailed over 50 vending machine companies trying to persuade them with his ideas, until finally one responded. The company, N & W Global, donated 100 vending machines. Khaled stated, “…we’re now in the process of finalising new locations across Europe and America, and even further afield.”
Some critics of the vending machine have stated that it makes it “too convenient” for the homeless, perhaps creating a dependency. Khaled has responded by stating, “We could have not put a limit on how many items people could receive, and not built in a system of checks. All of our users in Nottingham have to check-in with the Friary ( A local church) once a week for their cards to continue working,”
Khaled envisions his product expanding worldwide. “My ultimate hope for Action Hunger is for our idea to take root in cities all over the world, and for the homeless to have a lifeline to rely on while government policies work towards ending homelessness for once and for all,” stated Khaled in an interview with CNN.