Homeless people in the United Kingdom can now obtain food or items like socks or toothbrushes at no cost any time of day with a recently installed vending machine. New charity Action Hunger aims to work alongside existing charities tackling the issue of homelessness with the vending machines that can offer necessities at hours when many charities may not be open. Action Hunger plans to expand across the UK and to New York City in early 2018.
Action Hunger aims to ensure the homeless always have access to help, no matter the time of day. Their plan is to install unmanned vending machines offering food like sandwiches, energy bars, and fruit, and other essentials like antibacterial lotion, sanitary towels, toothpaste, and books. Homeless people can access them with a keycard provided by local authorities that allows users to obtain three items a day.
Action Hunger said on their website they allow for just three items “to prevent singular dependency on our machines – 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.”
Halimah Gulzar Khaled, a member of the board of trustees, told the Press Association the idea won’t get people off the streets “but it will help them while they are going through this phase of their life.”
Action Hunger said the vending machines are inexpensive and economical, and that a large amount of the food in the machines comes from redistribution organizations working to fight food waste. They also obtain excess produce from grocery stores and local shops. They purchase other items, and volunteers stock the machines daily.
29-year-old Huzaifah Khaled came up with the idea while studying for a PhD in law, and is looking for a new CEO as he begins a role with Goldman Sachs in February. Action Hunger counts Stephen Hawking as a patron.