Virginia Commonwealth University has installed campus vending machines stocked with personal protective equipment for its campus community to access via their student ID card.
According to a report from The Virginia-Pilot, the campus vending machines are scattered across VCU's Richmond campus and are filled with masks, hand sanitizer and wipes. The PPE supplies are available to students and employees for free by swiping their VCUCard, with purchases being limited to once per month per product type to ensure supplies are spread more evenly across the campus population.
If students need to refill their PPE stores, they can visit one of the several vending machines around campus. Every member of the VCU community will also be allowed a certain number of swipes per month for the PPE vending machines with their VCUCard.
VCU officials started planning preventative measures months ago to help keep students safe when returning to campus. Prior to the vending machine initiative, the first measure was to hand out PPE starter supply kits with masks, hand sanitizer and wipes. The question that quickly followed was what to do when the kits became empty.
To solve for this challenge, VCU contacted its vending provider, Grainger Industrial Supply, about acquiring more vending machines for the purpose of dispensing masks and hand sanitizer.
The result of the initiative with Grainger is a total of 10 new PPE vending machines that have been installed across two VCU campuses. Five of the vending machines have been installed on the flagship Monroe Park Campus in common student areas including a library, student union, and parking deck. The remaining five vending machines are scattered across VCU's Medical College of Virginia Campus.
VCU joins a host of other universities, including New Mexico State, now using campus vending machines and the campus card to dispense masks, sanitizer, gloves and other PPE items.
VCU also has also taped off and placed signage on seats to control its capacity in dining areas to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Common spaces on campus are also marked out to indicate where students should stand while in lines or which tables are available for seating.