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Food ATMs to the Rescue?

Categories : Cash and Crises
October 8, 2020
Published in : ATM, Food Distribution, World Food Programme
In 2012 an ATM selling cupcakes opened in New York City. Eight years later, Food ATMs are dispensing free rice and other essential staples to those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in Jakarta, Indonesia and Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam. The service is proving vital for thousands of people whose nutritional status has been compromised by losing their livelihoods as a result of the pandemic.
James Shepherd-Barron

Disaster Management Consultant, Disaster Epidemiologist, Author, and Founder of The Aid Workers Union

Food ATMs are also being piloted by the UN’s World Food Programme in refugee camps in East Africa. After all, logic suggests that as beneficiaries are used to receiving their cash this way, why not their food? According to WFP, just one food ATM is expected to improve nutrition and safe access to food assistance for thousands of refugees. Implemented at scale, they say, it could provide a global solution to food insecurity for hundreds of thousands of people around the world affected by the pandemic.

Although the idea seems completely wacky, there are – in theory, at least – a number of potential benefits. These include:

This is one for The ATM Appreciation Society to watch as the idea is up there with ATMs that dispense water in Nairobi, rosaries and condolence cards outside a cemetery in Zurich, and insurance policies in South Africa.