For the past month, a "rice ATM” has been automatically dispensing free rice 24/7 to people badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Poor people in Da Lat City receive rice from an automatically dispensing rice machine.

This creative effort to make sure no one is left behind has drawn praise and offers of support from nationwide.

The risk of cross-infection of COVID-19 has made it harder than usual for charitable donors to distribute relief aid. The automatic rice dispenser delivers desperately needed food to the hungry at a greatly reduced risk of community transmission.

Since April, thousands of needy people in Lam Dong province have received free rice from a "rice ATM” set up by the provincial Fatherland Front in collaboration with Linh Quang pagoda and the Hoa Sen Group, one of Vietnam’s leading steel manufacturers.

Each day, the ATM provides approximately 500kg of rice, which Venerable Thich Dinh Toan, head of Linh Quang pagoda, says was donated by many people.  

"Even small donations can be a big help for disadvantaged people during this tough time. The free rice gives poor people greater trust in social assistance and upholds the Prime Minister’s directive to leave no one behind during this pandemic,” said Venerable Thich Dinh Toan.

Tran Thi Tam, a lottery ticket vendor, has benefited from the rice ATM.

"My business has been suspended for a month. I have no money to buy food. I’m very grateful for the State’s help during this difficult period. As the saying goes ‘A bite of food when you’re hungry is worth a plate of food when you’re full,’” she said.


A rice ATM built by Lao Cai College has been distributing free rice to hundreds of poor families, who are mainly Tay, Mong, and Dao ethnic minorities in Lien Minh commune, Lao Cai province.

Each poor family receives 10 kilos of rice per day. Near-poor families get 5 kilos.

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The Rice ATM in Nga Bay city, Hau Giang province

In response to social distancing, most households in the Mekong Delta have restricted their travel. Their biggest concern is finding a way to survive until the end of the epidemic.

80-year-old Ma Thi Sau of Luong Tam commune, Hau Giang province, said, "Worrying about having enough food for my family has kept me awake at night. My grandchildren asked me to go get rice from the "rice ATM” and cook it for them. They were hungry. We are so relieved to get this rice.”

Now several free rice ATMs at other localities are running at full capacity to help people survive the pandemic. 


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