A vending machine for the homeless is being set up in the UK by a new charity that wants to provide 24-hour access to food and clothing.
Action Hunger will work with Tesco and other partners to stock the machine in Nottingham with items such as fresh fruit, socks and toothpaste.
The machine will be activated by a key card handed out to street people by homeless charity The Friary.
Cameras will monitor the machines to ensure the cards are not misused.
Chocolate and crisps
“Action Hunger is not seeking to supplant the incredible efforts of existing charities for the homeless – we’re seeking to work in concert with them,” charity spokesman Huzaifah Khaled said.
“While other organisations can offer empathy and human contact and counselling… we solely provide unmanned vending machines,” he said.
The machines will offer water, fresh fruit, energy bars, crisps, chocolate, and sandwiches, along with socks, sanitary towels, antibacterial lotion, toothbrush and books.
Some of the food will come from groups like FareShare that seek to reduce food waste.
The first machine will be installed at the start of December under a canopy near the back entrance of the Broadmarsh Centre in Sussex Street, on private land owned by the shopping centre operator Intu.
The 100 key cards will contain a chip that allows them to be blocked or cancelled if they are lost or stolen. Three items a day can be taken from the machine per person.
The charity, partly funded with lottery support, aims to install another machine in Manchester in January and has plans for machines in Birmingham, London, New York, Seattle and Los Angeles.
Denis Tully, from homeless charity Emmanuel House, said although Nottingham was well served with outlets for free food, the machine had two main benefits.
“One is it is readily available,” he said.
Mr Tully said the second advantage was that those using the machines will also get support from one of Action Hunger’s partner charities because in order to receive a fob they have to get in touch with one of these organisations.