Hungry BIU students warm to meal-on-demand vending machine

Machine contains wide array of 400-gram meals that accommodate both vegetarians and meat eaters.

bar ilan 88 (photo credit: )
bar ilan 88
(photo credit: )
An automated vending machine that refrigerates food and then warms it up immediately on demand has been developed at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan to benefit hungry students. The machine is the heart of a new campus restaurant called Just Like Home, which is open 24 hours a day and has no waiters or any other human contact with customers. According to Eldad Feigel and Gil Mitrani, the restaurant's owners, there is no need to wait in line or make a reservation. Even tipping is unnecessary. Over the past 18 months, the owners developed the automated cooling/heating device after working with dieticians and food engineers from across Israel. "The [kosher] meals have a high nutritional value and are made from natural ingredients, without preservatives," said Feigel and Mitrani. The restaurant is appropriately located in the university's School of Engineering complex on the north campus. "This restaurant is unique in that it provides students with meals around the clock - the perfect solution for our students, since food is available, tasty, healthy and low-priced," said Bar-Ilan director-general Haim Glick at the official opening this week. "The machine contains a wide array of 400-gram meals that accommodate the public's varying tastes. From low-calorie meals to vegetarian ones, there is something for everyone," added the inventors. The machine is equipped with a wireless modem that continuously transmits information on its status. Every detail may be accessed at any given time, such as how many and what meals were purchased during every hour of the day, and the status of the machine's inventory. The machine also contains a computerized controller. In the event of a power outage, which would lead to a drop in the inside temperature, the machine automatically prevents any purchases and simultaneously transmits e-mail and SMS warnings of the temperature drop. In such a case, replacing the food units is the only way to enable sales to resume. Student Union president Shlomi Shem-Tov thanked the university administration for spearheading the project. "This illustrates the outstanding relations between the administration and students. We feel that we are cared for and listened to," said Shem-Tov.