CFAM Technologies, a North-West University spin-off company, is a Potchefstroom based company that specializes in the design and manufacturing of extrusion processing plants and technology. For a number of years, CFAM has been using their extrusion pilot plant to produce an instant porridge from whole grain maize, fortified with milk powder, sugar, vitamins and minerals. CFAM has supplied the porridge to old age homes, schools and other people in need. The vanilla porridge is ready to eat, meaning that you only add cold water or milk to 50g of dry porridge, and can then consume the porridge.
When the Covid pandemic struck, CFAM together with the Potchefstroom Sakekamer and members of the Potchefstroom community collected funds to buy the required raw materials, and the CFAM pilot plant was used to produce instant porridge that was then distributed through local churches and community organizations to destitute and hungry persons around Potchefstroom.
The challenge of people not being allowed to queue led to the idea of a FoodATM, where people can receive the instant porridge from the FoodATM using a coupon system. The CFAM engineering team got to work, and within a period of three weeks the first working prototype FoodATM was designed, manufactured and tested!
The FoodATM consists of a storage tank where the dry instant porridge is stored. From there, a feeder scale on load cells is kept full. The control system of the ATM verifies if the entered coupon a valid unredeemed coupon, and if valid, what weight of porridge should be dispensed. After dispensing the porridge, the cloud-based database of the system is updated, and the dispensing of the porridge connected to the specific coupon is logged. Recipients receive their coupons with instructions via an SMS. The system can also control when specific coupons is active, to spread the users accessing the system throughout the day. Donors can be issued with accurate data on the exact way that the funds they donated was used to feed specific people at specific times, with no way that food or donor funds can be compromised in the process.