Vending for Good

Vending machines have enjoyed such longevity in the spotlight in part because they deliver on-the-spot solutions. In the case of supply vending, that’s the office supplies employees need to stay productive and think ahead. But what’s so imaginative and interesting about the concept of vending in general are possibilities it conjures when you take it beyond business and out into the world as a force for vending good. Here are few innovative and inspiring examples:

Book vending machines that boost literacy

The “Land  Down Under” has come up with a novel use for vending machine do-gooders in a bold bid to enhance students’ reading and writing. The machines cost $20,000 and dispense one- to five-minute reads dubbed a “fast-food” version of the average novel. The first machine dispensing these snackable short reads showed up at French railway stations as a way to entertain commuters. The hope is that the book dispensers will stir a passion in children to write. And so far, they have.

Vending Machines that feed the homeless

In 2017, the UK launched a vending machine for Britain’s vulnerable people to access food, water and other everyday essentials. The machine is in Nottingham, available 24/7 and stocked with everything from towels and toothpaste to fresh fruit and socks. Nottingham-based charity Action Hunger is responsible for the machine people use with a traceable card—100 of them distributed among the part of the population most in need. CEO Sam Crawford told the Nottingham Post, “It’s an innovative way in which food and provisions can be made available out of hours to people in need.” The key cards contain a chip and can be blocked or cancelled if lost or stolen. Cardholders may take three items a day from the machine. The concept is set to expand into the United States, with machines showing up in New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles.

#LightTheWorld giving machines are worth a million

This past holiday season, vending machines served as a reminder to see past the beauty of the season to the people having trouble simply getting basic needs met. Sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the giving machines were in five locations in the United States, England and the Philippines. Inside were purchases to benefit others. In one window, glasses and eye exams for kids in developing countries. In another, a certificate for a live chicken, which provides not only income, but food for a struggling family. In total, the vending machines have generated more than a million in charitable donations. People love the convenience factor and the ability to help someone halfway across the globe.

In short, there’s vending the goods, but also vending for good. Which charitable causes are important to you that could benefit from smart vending?

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