Vietnam Installs Innovative ‘Rice ATMs’ to Give Food to Local Residents

A "rice ATM" in Hanoi, Vietnam.
A "rice ATM" in Hanoi, Vietnam. / Linh Pham/Getty Images

Residents of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, are lining up on bright orange tiles—spaced 6 feet away from each other—to wait their turn at the “rice ATM,” a silo that dispenses uncooked white rice through a tube.

Travel + Leisure reports that the innovative machine was created by Vietnamese technology businessman Hoang Tuan Anh as a way to give citizens access to free food while they’re out of work. Vietnam, which has about 270 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (as of April 17), launched a 15-day period of nationwide isolation on March 31, causing many small businesses to close their doors and many workers to find themselves temporarily without a source of income. According to Reuters, occupations of those waiting in line at the rice ATM range from street vendors to housekeepers.

Nguyen Thi Ly, a 34-year-old mother of three whose husband just lost his job, told Reuters the service provides enough rice to feed her family for a day. Each recipient can fill their bag with up to 1.5 kilograms (about 3.3 pounds) of rice.

“I read about this rice ATM on the internet. I came to check it out, and couldn’t believe it came out for real,” she told Reuters. “I really hope the sponsors would keep doing this until the end of the pandemic.”

It’s not clear how long the rice ATM in Ho Chi Minh City will continue operating, but another one in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, will stay open until the end of April or whenever it runs out of rice. Machines have been installed in other large cities like Hue and Danang, too.

Wondering how to help out in your own community during the coronavirus pandemic? Here are 7 things you can do.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]