Homeless Vending Machine

Introduction: Homeless Vending Machine

I am attempting to prevent hunger in our community. There are approximately 3,000+ people in Oklahoma experiencing homelessness. We chose to conspire a solution for this issue to improve and grow our community as a whole. A large number of people in Oklahoma don’t have enough to eat. Oklahomans are more likely to go hungry than most Americans. According to a recent survey, it seems homelessness continues to rise in our big cities. To be able to live in a small apartment a person needs to make at least $18/hr when minimum wage in this state is $7.25. The homeless in our community include families, children, veterans, at-risk youth and the mentally ill. Currently, about 60% of homeless people cannot make it into shelters which leaves 30% on the street at any given time. Current solutions to the problem of food insecurity include food banks such as the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, local shelters and SNAP, a government food assistance program. I had the idea of making a vending machine that could be placed in different shelters or government buildings to help provide a healthy meal to people who can not pay for food. Our initial problem was figuring out what food could be placed in a non-refrigerated vending machine. Our original idea was to stock our vending machine with MREs. After further research, I found that the nutritional values and sodium levels were far too high to live off of for an extensive period of time.MREs cause extensive gastrointestinal issues. Studies have also shown that MREs can obliterate vast swaths of your stomach bacteria, which explains why they are notorious for causing bloating and constipation. Tests have proven that they deteriorate health if eaten by itself for long periods of time. MRE’s also cause slow starvation if it is the only source of a person’s food. It is possible for your body to adapt to the MREs but the high sodium/calorie count is still doing a considerable amount of damage on its own. Even after the test volunteers stopped eating the MREs it still took their intestinal track a few days to re-learn how to digest real food again. The high sodium is also awful for the human body. The salt causes you to be extra thirsty which would make you consume high amounts of water. The water will then cause your blood volume to increase putting pressure and strain on your arteries in your heart. Many people also complain about the revolting taste many of the MREs contain. Not to mention the deterioration of shelf life under harsh conditions, which would not be suitable for Oklahoma's notorious outrageous weather conditions.We then switched from MRE's to freeze-dried food. The switch to Freeze-dried food is much cheaper and far better in nutritional value. Freeze dried food can preserve the original vitamin content of the food. It also has better taste and can easily be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration finally, our last challenge was finding a way to get our vending machine to deliver one meal using a code with a keypad. We had to code the keypad ourselves using Raspberry Pi. We had to learn to use the Python coding language to change the original vending machine mechanism for food delivery. At first, we were going to use MREs. Then, we found out that they have mass amounts of sodium. We switched from MREs to freeze-dried food. The switch was good for us and the homeless. Freeze-dried food is much cheaper and far better in nutritional value. There is another homeless vending machine in Nottingham, England called Action Hunger, which is much like the one that we have.We learned all about nutritional information in nonperishable foods.Average nutrition facts of and MRECalories-1283Calories from fat-454Fat-54gSaturated fat-17gTrans fat-5gCholesterol-174gSodium-3816mgCarbs-176gFiber-6gSugar-77gProtein-34gWe did not realize how pervasive homelessness and hunger is in our community until we started researching it. We had an opportunity to speak to community leaders about the problem.Finally, we learned all about how vending machines work and discovered ways in which they can be coded to help distribute a meal with a code.In our city, hunger in the homeless is solved with community food banks, SNAP programs, and homeless shelters. There is another vending machine in Nottingham, England called Action Hunger, which is much like ours. This machine distributes water, energy bars, toothbrushes using a key card which a person has to keep with them. Our machine would work with code and would avoid the possible loss of the key. Our machine also would work with freeze-dried food and not just snacks.Sources: Oklahoma Policy institute .org Fact sheet Hunger in Oklahoma Oklahoman. “Homeless population increases by 8 percent in Oklahoma City, survey says” by Kayla Branch 6/5/2019Minimal wage.org- Oklahoma’s minimum wageUnited States Interagency Council on Homelessness. Oklahoma Homeless StatisticsHappy preppers.com -Meals ready to eatWikipedia. Meal, Ready to eat other Jones, “Seven Things to Know About Freeze-Dried Food” 7/11/2011 by Annie MatthewsOEL “Does Freeze-Drying Affect Nutrition? “ By Frankie SmithMayor GT Bynum

Supplies

My laptop

Raspberry

Pi

Wires

Monitor

Vending Machine

Mouse and Keyboard

Step 1: Step 2: Start Coding It in Python

The solution I came up with was to have a machine that dispenses 3 meals a day to a homeless person. For a person using our vending machine, it's quite simple, the person will walk up to our vending machine and type in a special code given to them. That code will lock every 6 hours causing the machine to only dispense 3 times a day. No one will rob the machine or take more than is needed. Once the code is typed in, the nutritious meal will drop to the bottom of the machine.

Step 2: Step 3: Find a Vending Machine to Use and Wire Up Raspberry PI

First, I bought an old vending machine from a local barbershop. Then I started programming, in python, all the things into the raspberry pi that we need to control the vending machine like the display, keypad, database, and MySQL server to store all our data like when was the last time they got food and how many credits they have, etc. after we got that done we wired up the Rasberry pi and relays and drew power from the outlet to power ala that. Then 3d printed something to hold our display and keypad and cleaned the vending machine out so it looked brand new.

Step 3: Step 4: Test and Add Food

We tested our prototype by typing in a code in the keypad connected to the raspberry pi. The raspberry pi is then connected to the relays which send a signal to the motor. The motor causes the coils to spin which drops the food into the food exit. First, we bought an old vending machine from a local barbershop. Then we started programming, in python, all the things into the raspberry pi that we need to control the vending machine like the display, keypad, database, and MySQL server to store all our data like when was the last time they got food and how many credits they have, etc. after we got that done we wired up the Rasberry pi and relays and drew power from the outlet to power ala that. Then 3d printed something to hold our display and keypad and cleaned the vending machine out so it looked brand new.

Raspberry Pi Contest 2020

Participated in the
Raspberry Pi Contest 2020

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    2 Comments

    0
    Avocado Pirate
    Avocado Pirate

    1 year ago

    Great project! Awesome to see someone using their knowledge and interests to improve their community and the life of people in need! A very good example of how Making and DIY can make our future a little bit better. :) Also I love the fact that you thought about what you could build for other people and not for yourself!
    Where will you set up the vending machine? Did you get any support from an organization or something?

    0
    jessyratfink
    jessyratfink

    1 year ago

    This is a very nice project idea! And good on you for thinking not only about supplying food, but food that someone will feel better after eating. :)