Vending Machine Provides Free Food, Socks, and Toiletries to Homeless People

Action Hunger
Action Hunger

For people without homes, finding basic necessities like food, water, and toiletries can be a daily struggle. Homeless shelters are set up to provide these items to people who need them, but those resources are only useful when their doors are open. The nonprofit Action Hunger is experimenting with an alternative service that’s accessible 24 hours a day.

As Fast Company reports, Action Hunger has installed a vending machine inside the entrance of a Nottingham, UK shopping center stocked with contents meant exclusively for homeless consumers. To use it, visitors must have a card they can pick up from the local homeless center. Once their status has been confirmed, they’re given free access to fruit, sandwiches, socks, water, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and other basics. The can use the card up to three times a day and cardholders must check in with the participating shelter once a week to keep using it.

Huzaifah Khaled, the founder of Action Hunger, got the idea for the vending machine while commuting to and from Nottingham. In between his travels he had a chance to talk to the homeless people staying in the train stations and better understand their specific needs. He reached out to dozens of vending machine manufacturers before N&W Global agreed to donate a machine to the cause. It’s stocked with leftover food from local restaurants, charities, and supermarkets. When food runs low, the host homeless center can order refills via UberEats.

The vending machine is meant to supplement homeless shelters where they fall short, either because they’re closed for the night or running low on supplies. By requiring regular contact with the local services to use them, Khaled hopes the machine will act as more of a steppingstone for homeless users than a long-term crutch.

After receiving a donation of 100 machines, Action Hunger plans to expand their project overseas. The first stop is New York City in February, and after that there will be machines installed in Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. If you’re interested in helping the initiative, you can visit Action Hunger to volunteer or donate.

[h/t Fast Company]

Baskin-Robbins Russia Debuts Self-Driving Ice Cream Truck

iStock
iStock

While technologists tend to tout the potential benefits of self-driving cars for futuristic commuters, the best use of autonomous driving technology may not involve passengers at all. (Apologies to everyone who wants to nap while they drive.) What we really need are self-driving ice cream trucks.

In Russia, that's already a reality. A driverless ice cream truck from Baskin-Robbins Russia and a company called Avrora Robotics just debuted in Moscow, according to The Calvert Journal.

The VendBot, similar to a smart ice cream vending machine on wheels, debuted at Moscow's Hydroaviasalon conference, an event about seaplane technology and science. The small vehicle is currently designed to move around parks, event spaces, and shopping centers, and can maneuver independently, detecting obstacles and stopping for customers along the way. For its debut, it was stocked with six different Baskin-Robbins flavors.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Мороженое Баскин Роббинс (@baskinrobbinsrussia) on

Based on videos of the VendBot Baskin-Robbins Russia posted to the company's Instagram account, the miniature truck doesn't come equipped with the jingles U.S. ice cream trucks play incessantly. Instead, it beeps to alert potential customers of its presence instead. Once it stops, customers can order their dessert from a keypad on the side of the vehicle similar to ordering from a vending machine.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Мороженое Баскин Роббинс (@baskinrobbinsrussia) on

Avrora Robotics, based outside of Moscow in Ryazan, Russia, specializes in developing autonomous vehicles for freight transport, industrial farming, and military use. And now, ice cream delivery.

Unfortunately, there's no mention of Baskin-Robbins bringing its driverless ice cream truck to other countries just yet, so we will have to content ourselves with chasing after human-driven ice cream trucks for a while still.

[h/t The Calvert Journal]

8 Delicious Facts About Guacamole

iStock
iStock

Grab a cerveza, tear open a new bag of chips, and kick back with these facts about your favorite bright green zesty spread—in honor of National Guacamole Day.

1. AVOCADOS GO BACK THOUSANDS OF YEARS.

The avocado, first known as the ahuacate, has been cultivated and eaten in Mexico, Central America, and South America as far back as 500 BCE.

2. THE AZTECS INVENTED GUACAMOLE.

When the Spaniards arrived in the New World, they discovered an Aztec sauce called ahuaca-molli; molli was the Nahautl word for “something mashed or pureed,” while ahuactl referred to testicles, or the stone fruit that reminded them of testicles.

3. AVOCADOS HAVE BEEN REBRANDED.

In the early 20th century, our favorite mashable fruit went by the unappealing name “alligator pear,” due to its bumpy green skin. The California Avocado Growers’ Exchange, a trade group, complained in a 1927 statement “That the avocado … should be called an alligator pear is beyond all understanding.” Alligator pear disappeared, and the fruit was called everything from calavo to butter pear to avocado pear before avocado finally stuck.

4. THE AVOCADO HAS FAMOUS RELATIVES.

The avocado trade group also bemoaned the more quotidian foods associated with the avocado, “an exalted member of the laurel family.” Indeed, the avocado is a member of the lauracae family, which also includes bay leaves, cinnamon, camphor, and sassafras.

5. A MAILMAN PATENTED THE MOST POPULAR AVOCADO VARIETY.

There are more than 400 varieties of avocado grown around the world, but the Hass, grown mostly in Mexico and California, is the most popular. A postal worker named Rudolph Hass purchased the seedling from a farmer in 1926 and filed a patent in 1935. The original tree stood, and bore fruit, for nearly 70 years in La Habra Heights, California.

6. CALIFORNIA DOMINATES U.S. AVOCADO PRODUCTION.

The western state accounts for nearly 90 percent of all avocados grown in the United States, with the bulk of farms centered in a five-county region of southern California.

7. MEXICAN AVOCADOS WERE ONCE BANNED IN THE U.S.

Beginning in 1914, Hass avocados were not allowed to be imported to the United States from Mexico. After a two-year debate, the USDA lifted the ban in 1997—although approved farms were only allowed to export their crops to 19 U.S. states and were still forbidden from selling in California. In 2002, the U.S. Federal Hass Avocado Promotion, Research, and Information Order was established, and today Mexican avocados are allowed in all 50 states.

8. THE BIGGEST GUACAMOLE SERVING EVER WEIGHED AS MUCH AS SOME ELEPHANTS.

A Guinness World Record was set in 2013 when a group of 450 students in Tancitaro, Michoacan, Mexico prepared a serving of guacamole that weighed 5,885.24 pounds, or almost 3 tons. Asian elephants can weigh anywhere from 2.25-5.5 tons.

This article was originally published in 2016.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER