A machine that gives out free rice – it sounds too good to be true. But these “rice ATMs” have been set up around Vietnam to help those who need it most during the coronavirus pandemic.
Vietnam has 265 cases of the novel coronavirus and zero deaths, numbers that are significantly lower than the rest of the world. But still, to prevent further spread, the government has enforced social distancing, effectively shutting down many small businesses and leaving thousands out of work.
For these people who are suddenly without income, businessmen and donors have set up machines that dispense free rice at several cities across Vietnam.
In Hanoi, rice contained in a large water tank pours out into residents’ bags from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, according to state-run news agency VNA.
Those waiting in line are required to stand six feet apart from each other and they must use hand sanitizer before receiving their rice, according to local newspaper Hanoi Times.
In the central city of Hue, a rice ATM located at a college provides 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of free rice for local residents.
In Ho Chi Minh City, a rice ATM dispenses rice 24/7. And in Da Nang, two rice ATMs will be set up next week, according to VNA.