Rice ATM helps feed jobless in Vietnam

A businessman Hoang Tuan Anh has invented a rice ATM* to help people who can’t afford to buy food because of the coronavirus disruption.

The automatic rice dispenser is in Vietnam’s capital Ho Chi Minh City and can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The rice is free.

As of Wednesday, Vietnam had reported 266 COVID-19 cases, and no deaths so far, but as a result of a 15-day social distancing program that began on March 31 many small businesses have been closed and thousands of people have lost their jobs or can’t work. The machine distributes a 1.5kg portion of rice from a small silo to waiting workers, many of whom had jobs they can’t do at the moment, such as cleaning houses or selling lottery tickets.

Vietnam’s government news outlets are reporting similar rice ATMs have been set up in other big cities in Vietnam such as Hanoi, Hue and Danang.

Anh told Vietnamese government media he wanted people to feel they still had access to food and resources, despite the current financial* difficulties they found themselves in. “I refer to this machine as a ‘rice ATM’ because people can withdraw rice from it, assured that there are still good people out there who want to give them a second chance,” he said.

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