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While vending machines have a bad reputation generally, they are particularly frowned upon in schools. That's because most are filled with foods that are deemed unhealthy for both kids and adults. However, no one will have any objection to Jet Blue's vending machines. That's because they dispense free books!
The U.S. airline's pilot program was launched in early July in Washington D.C.' s historic Anacostia neighborhood. It was picked because Jet Blue's research indicated that kids in the area had access to only one age appropriate book for every 830 children. To change the dire ratio the company has installed three vending machines in locations that are widely frequented by the locals - a Safeway grocery store, a Salvation Army and a neighborhood church.
The machines are filled with 12 age appropriate books for children 0-14. A total of 42 titles are being offered, and the selection is rotated every two weeks. Kids can help themselves to as many books as they wish and return for more as many times as they desire. The best part? Unlike a library, the books are theirs to keep.
Jet Blue and their partners Random House Children's Books and Magic TreeHouse author Mary Pope Osborne, say they are committed to giving away 100,000 books. As of August 25, 16,000 had been claimed. The company now plans to extend its vending machine program to impoverished neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Houston and New York City.
Though the book vending machines are new, this is not the first time Jet Blue and their partners have given away books. Since 2011, the company's "Soar with Reading" program has donated over $1,250,000 USD worth of books to kids in need!
Resources: usnews.com, washingtonpost.com,soarwithreading,com