New deli with food cooked in vending machine open 24/7 at Royal Stoke
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New deli with food cooked in vending machine open 24/7 at Royal Stoke

Apr 29, 2023

NHS staff, patients and visitors can now grab a healthy meal around the clock - and the food is ready in seconds

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NHS staff, patients and visitors can now grab a healthy meal on the go after a 24/7 deli opened at Stoke-on-Trent's main hospital. A specialist vending machine has been set up at the Royal Stoke providing a range of hot and cold meals around the clock.

Anyone feeling peckish can pick from an array of different cuisines including Italian, Indian and Canadian and their meal will be ready in a matter of seconds. Among the options are tasty pizzas cooked in four minutes, crispy fries, smoothies people can design themselves, and jerk chicken.

Halal, vegetarian and vegan options are also available with calories and nutritional information shown on the screen before an order is made. The hot food is cooked via infrared and microwaves built into the machine.

Tracy Bullock, CEO of the University Hospital of North Midlands. and said: "The new deli is great and I’m glad Sodexo suggested the idea. Having access to food options 24/7 is brilliant because our staff can get a hot, nutritious meal - something many employees don't have if they’re working a night shift.

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"People think it might be poor quality because it comes out of a machine but it's not. Being able to see the nutritional content, allergies and calories of foods is a beneficial feature. It's perfect for people who want something filling yet satisfying. To get such high-quality food so quickly is brilliant.

"The feedback from staff so far has been really positive. We’re really pleased to be the first NHS trust in the country to have the 24/7 deli and everyone - staff, patients and visitors - seem to enjoy it."

The deli was invented by SV365 Technologies, which aims to support small to medium enterprises, cut costs for consumers, and to reduce waste.

Walter Gill is the co-founder of SV365 Technologies and is a veteran in the vending industry with over 35 years experience. He said: "This is the first of its kind anywhere. We’ve used cutting edge technology to create an automatic food court that can be left unattended. We’d heard on the news that some people couldn't get access to hot food and we’d seen similar ideas abroad before, so we designed our own. Some people have joked that there must be someone working inside and feeding the food through the vending machines, that's just how unbelievable the deli is.

"I met Mel [Militsa Pribetich-Gill, head of product innovation for Sodexo] at a trade fair a few months ago and she loved the concept, and wanted to introduce it at the Royal Stoke hospital so that all members of staff get the option to eat a tasty meal during their shift. It's been great working with the trust and we’re really pleased with the results."

Militsa, from Sodexo, said: "It's really exciting and the food tastes amazing. Some of the machines let people cater things to their taste, such as the smoothie machines and the coffee machines. The food can be ordered cold too, which is helpful for staff who might want to order a ready meal and cook it on their own campus [or ward] instead of carrying it around hot.

"When we took some members of staff to see it a few weeks ago they were blown away by the 24/7 deli. It’ll improve staff wellbeing as well as some patients’ or visitors’. People can take food outside and eat which is great for summer. We're very happy to see it come to fruition."

The machines take contactless payments with minimum touches required on the screens to keep the spread of germs at a minimum.

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