In Ako, Hyogo Prefecture, two vending machines have been installed to provide free food and drinks during times of disaster, such as typhoons or a Nankai Trough megaquake. These machines, called “hygiene supply disaster prevention stockpiling vending machines,” aim to enhance local disaster preparedness and are the result of a cooperation agreement between the Ako Municipal Government and Tokyo-based pharmaceutical firm Earth Corp.
Strengthening Disaster Preparedness and Cooperation
The vending machines were installed in designated evacuation shelters, specifically the Ako Sukoyaka Center and the Chuo Kominkan community center. They are stocked with approximately 300 bottles and cans of soft drinks, as well as 150 emergency food items including nutritional supplements. When an evacuation order is issued due to a significant earthquake or other disasters, the vending machines will unlock, allowing evacuees to access the food and beverages free of charge.
Preventing Food Waste and Ensuring Freshness
During normal times, the vending machines operate like any other, selling their products. This approach helps to prevent food and drink items from expiring and going to waste. The implementation of these disaster-oriented vending machines aims to provide immediate support and resources to evacuees during times of crisis.
Emergency Sanitary Supplies Provided Alongside Vending Machines
Adjacent to the vending machines, recycling bins are accompanied by lockers stocked with emergency sanitary supplies, including portable toilets and disposable masks. These supplies are intended to be distributed in the event of a disaster, further enhancing the preparedness measures in Ako, Hyogo Prefecture.
Earth Corp.’s Efforts to Address Local Issues
Earth Corp., with its local factory in Ako, has been actively addressing local issues by signing agreements with 17 municipalities across Japan since 2020. The installation of the disaster prevention stockpiling vending machines in Ako is the first of its kind in the country. Earth Corp. is enthusiastic about expanding this initiative nationwide, considering it a socially oriented project with significant potential.
Enhancing Safety and Security for Citizens
City officials express their expectation that the stockpile of emergency supplies, combined with the vending machines, will contribute to the safety and security of the city’s citizens. This comprehensive approach to disaster preparedness reflects the commitment of the Ako Municipal Government to prioritize the well-being of its residents during times of crisis.