Free vending machines for the homeless will be available in the United States next month. The vending machines will be uniquely tailored to the immediate needs of those who are homeless and will include essential items like food, water, and clothing.
Action Hunger charity’s founder, Huzaifah Khaled, told Digital Trends that the machines will be installed where America’s largest homeless population resides. The free vending machines will first arrive in New York, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Action Hunger is a British charity and was first to design the free vending machine that dispenses food and other necessities, according to the Washington Post. The launch of the machines was a success and the high demand for the machines has now prompted Action Hunger to bring their innovative creation to the United States.
Action Hunger unveiled their machine in a Nottingham shopping center on December 19. The free vending machine was reported to have dispensed water, fresh fruit, energy bars, chips, chocolate, and sandwiches. In an interview with Design Week, a spokesperson for Action Hunger said that the free vending machines will also provide socks, sanitary towels, antibacterial lotion, soaps, toothbrush, and toothpaste packs, and books to those who are in need.
To avoid misuse of the machines by the general public, Action Hunger has designed a special key card that the homeless will obtain from local shelters in each community. The card will only allow the homeless to withdraw three items a day so that people do not grow dependent on the machines.
“While other organizations can offer empathy, human contact, and counseling… we solely provide unmanned vending machines. Our aim is to… [ensure] that help is always available.”
A good portion of the fresh food was redistributed from other organizations that seek to reduce food waste. Other items have been bought with donations.
“We want our low-cost solution to complement other services that are available, as engagement with professionals and local support services is instrumental to breaking the cycle of homelessness.”
The 29-year-old Nottingham resident, Huzaifah Khaled, developed the project while working towards a Ph.D. in law. Khaled persuaded N&W Global Vending, one of the world’s biggest vending companies, to give him a $13,500 vending machine for free.
Although the free vending machine will help many homeless people. Khaled has received criticism for his endeavors and has been said to be an enabler of the “street lifestyle” by making it easier for people to stay homeless rather than finding a shelter where they can receive other services and advice.
However, Huzaifah has insisted that the opposite is true because there is a limit on how many items one person can receive. For a person in need to continue obtaining the items, the user must visit their community’s headquarters once a week, otherwise, their card may be deactivated.
“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 once a week for their cards to continue working.”
The machines will be restocked once a week by volunteers. Khaled said that there will be 100 cards issued throughout the city and has hopes to expand across the country as fast as possible. Free vending machines would be available in various cities if he is able to raise enough capital.
By the end of 2018, Action Hunger is presumed to have 25 to 30 machines in use.
Khaled said the “ideal solution” would be to have the machines installed at train stations. Khaled is currently in discussions with Network Rail, whose stations has long opening hours and are presumed safe as they are always well lit.
Khaled has been approached by people all over the world who wish to see the free vending machines installed in their city.
“I’ve had emails from people in Greece, Spain, Australia and China, all wanting to know more.”
Khaled is preparing to take a full-time job with Goldman Sachs in February, so he is searching for someone to run the charity and raise enough money that is necessary for the worldwide rollout.since he