Pennsylvania YMCA opens health, wellness and personal care vending machine

A “health-to-go” vending machine that can provide free health, wellness and personal care items and connect users to community services like food, shelter, health care or social services has been added to the lobby of a YMCA in Reading, Pa. The Penn State College of Medicine partnered with the SOS Berks Opioid Coalition to acquire and place the vending unit.

 The smart vending machine has an interactive interface and is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, according to a release from Penn State College of Medicine. The location was chosen in part because it is accessible to the public around the clock.

“These vending machines will be able to provide free wellness and personal care items and connect them to local services and resources they need. The information gained through this project will also allow us to make sure the supports people need in the community are readily available to them,” said Dr. Alice Zhang, co-lead investigator and assistant professor of Family and Community Medicine at the College of Medicine.

Vending inventory software allows the Penn State team to automatically capture information such as which items are viewed and dispensed, and when and which items need to be resupplied. The vending machine also can collect anonymous and voluntarily supplied information about user demographics, experiences, preferences and needs to help improve the services and best serve the community.

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