“Rice ATMs” supporting people nationwide during pandemic hinh anh 1A woman receives rice from a dispenser in Ben Tre province (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) - Rice ATMs” have played an indispensable role in helping disadvantaged people nationwide navigating the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two new rice dispensers, colloquially known as “Rice ATMs”, were installed in Cam Le district in the central city of Da Nang on April 20 and provide local people with three tonnes of free rice each day.

It is part of a programme to support the poor and disadvantaged affected by the pandemic and is projected to run for two months, depending on demand.

Vice Chairman of the Da Nang Young Entrepreneurs Association Nguyen Hong Cuong, head of the programme organizing board, said additional dispensers will be set up in the next few days for people in Son Tra and Hai Chau districts. 

The programme to date has received 135 tonnes of rice, four dispensers, 150 million VND (6,420 USD), and more than 15,000 face masks and other supplies from donors, he added.

The dispensers distribute bags of rice to local people, many of whom are street vendors or earn a living from cash jobs like housekeeping or selling lottery tickets.

Those waiting in line are required to stand two meters apart and must use hand sanitizer before receiving their portions.

One bag of rice is sufficient for most families for one day.

On the same day, the first “Rice ATM” was installed in Rach Gia city in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang.

In nearby Ben Tre province, two dispensers were recently installed and opened by the local chapter of the Vietnam Fatherland Front together with local businesses and individuals. Some 55 tonnes of rice along with 10,000 eggs were donated on the first day.

Ben Tre was the first Mekong Delta locality to have a “Rice ATM”, supported by the dispenser’s inventor Hoang Tuan Anh. He also provided 25 tonnes of rice to the province, which has also been affected by saline intrusion.

The dispensers will operate beyond the ongoing pandemic, until the end of the year or even longer, in a bid to support the poor in the province.

About 40,000 poor and near-poor households and policy beneficiaries in Ben Tre have been affected by COVID-19, while tens of thousands of hectares of crops have been damaged by saline intrusion which isn’t forecast to end until mid-May./.