HCM CITY — Many disadvantaged people in HCM City are flocking to 204B Vườn Lài Street in Tân Phú District to get free rice from an automatic vending machine installed by a company.
A woman who refused to reveal her name from Bình Trị Đông Ward in Bình Tân District had brought a plastic shopping bag and pressed the button to get 1.5kg of rice.
She had been selling lottery tickets, but as part of the social distancing campaign the Government has ordered a halt to selling lottery, and her husband too is unemployed, she said.
She has a family of four, she said.
The rice vending machine was set up by the management and staff of PHGLock Company of Tân Phú District on April 6.
Hearing from her children about this, the woman said she hastened to get some rice. “The bag of rice is helpful for me.”
A woman who mends old clothes in Tân Phú District’s Phú Thọ Hòa Ward was standing in line for her turn.
A woman gets free rice from a vending machine in HCM City’s Tân Phú District set up with money pooled by employees of PHGLock Company of Tân Phú District. — VNA/VNS Photo Hứa Chung
People in the queue maintained a distance of two metres from each other.
Hoàng Tuấn Anh, director of PHGLock Company, said the rice is available all 24 hours and so people could avoid gathering at the same time. It also helps reduce contact between people while procuring rice amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
The number of people coming to get the free rice was low at first, but has increased greatly following media reports.
The rice is bought using money donated by the company’s staff.
Anh said the plan was to fill around 500kg a day, but the amount had to be increased to three to five tonnes within two days, and since exceeds the donors’ capacity, the company has called on sponsors to join in.
The charity is expected to continue until the pandemic subsides, he said.
At many places in the city, instant noodles, soy sauce, eggs, and other food items are left on tables for poor people to take for free.
Some grocery and kitchen equipment stores are also giving free food to poor people.
They include Yaki Grill Store in Tân Phú District, Nụ Cười food stores throughout the city and Nhất Tâm vegetarian food store in Nhà Bè and Bình Chánh districts
The city People’s Committee has approved a suggestion by the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to pay a one-time allowance of VNĐ750,000 (US$31.8) from its COVID-19 prevention and control fund to lottery ticket sellers until they can ply their trade again.
The city has more than 14,000 of them, according to the department.
It admitted the amount is not high, but could help them tide over the 15 days of social distancing. VNS