Vending machines offer bread – and new model for charity

In a high tech era, ‘giving us our daily bread’ has a whole new meaning. At least in Dubai, where an initiative called  Bread for all is providing bread  free of charge to those in need via 10 vending machines spread around the country which prepare and dispense two kinds of bread.

Not only is it yet another example of innovative use of vending machines, this time for humanitarian support, but it is “a modern and sustainable model of charitable work”, says the Mohammed bin Rashid Global Centre for Endowment Consultancy, whose inspiration it is.

The bread is free for underprivileged families and labourers. People who want to help by contributing can  donate directly through the machines or by SMS.

It puts into action something Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, said at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that “In the UAE, no one sleeps hungry or in need”.

Khaleej Times photo.

The Khaleej Times reported how it works:

“Placed right at the door of several Aswaaq outlets across Al Mizhar, Al Warqa’a, Mirdif, Nad Alsheba, Nadd Al Hamar, Al Qouz, and Al Bada’a branches, the easy-to-use bread vending machine gives people the option to choose between Arabic bread and finger rolls. Once selected, a pop up appears on the screen asking if they are in need of bread. On selecting ‘Click to Order’, the machine begins preparing hot bread that is dispensed in roughly a minute.

“We have seen a lot of people make use of the machine,” said a security guard. “Many were labourers who work in the area. Some were delivery riders and workers.” Aswaaq companies are in charge of refilling the machines twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening. “During the evening, we get people who are on their way home from work,” said the security guard.”

“This initiative is an exemplary model for an innovative community endowment that allows everyone to participate, creating a comprehensive charity movement and enhancing the spirit of solidarity among various social segments,” said Ali Al Mutawa, secretary general of Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation. “We look forward to expanding the scope of cooperation with the initiative’s partners in the local community to reach the most beneficiaries.”

There are plans to increase the number of vending machines after the first six months of the project, said Zainab Juma Al Tamimi, Director of MBRGCEC.

In Kenya, people living in Nairobi slums can get water via vending machines. And in many European countries, people can buy fresh milk via vending machines, supporting dairy farmers.