Students can now find two My Lil’ Health Bots on campus. Carrying over 50 personal health and care products, these touch-screen vending machines have been placed in Mary Keyes Residence and the Commons Building.
Tim Decker co-founded My Lil’ Healthmart with a mission to make necessities such as Advil, shampoo and toothpaste convenient and accessible to students.
Before the introduction of these vending machines, the only places one could find all of these products were in the pharmacy in the McMaster Student University Centre. The convenience store in MyMiniMac offers some basic tolietries. The McMaster Students Union Student Health Education Centre also offers some heatlh and care products, free of charge, such as condoms, lubricant and menstrual products.
None of these locations, however, are available 24/7. The pharmacy is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
My Mini Mac closes at midnight most nights, with the exeption of Saturday, when it closes at 10 p.m.
MSU SHEC is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
“We’ve all been there, where it’s late, it’s cold and you need something but you either can’t get it or it’s too far away so you want it, but you don’t want to go get it,” said Decker. “Most people suffer through and end up making that trip.”
Carrying over 50 personal health and care products, these touch-screen vending machines have been placed in Mary Keyes Residence and the Commons Building.
After bringing his vending machines to a few other Canadian universities, including Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Toronto (Mississauga), Decker reached out to Chris Roberts, the head of McMaster hospitality services, who expressed interest in introducing My Lil’ Health Bots to McMaster.
This initiative comes along during what some critics are calling the undergraduate mental health crisis, with one Maclean’s survey finding 14 per cent of all students surveyed in poor mental health and 31 per cent saying their mental health was affecting their ability to perform academically.
Although it is not the case for every individual, in some cases stress and anxiety may compromise someone’s immune system, making them more suseptible to physical illness.
Though the vending machines have just been set up, they are already making a tangible difference.
“When school gets stressful, especially during exam season, I know a lot of students neglect to prioritize their own health,” said Parnika Godkhindi, a first year arts and science student. “Having this machine so close by makes it easier for students to set aside time to take care of themselves.”
My Lil’ Health Bots also allow students to buy personal care products without being scrutinized by employees and ensures that its products are affordable.
“We hope to benefit students by making access to health and personal care products more convenient but also just as affordable as other alternatives,” said Decker. “This is why we price our products to the closest local competitor.”
The vending machines also accept student card.
When asked what’s in store for the future of My Lil’ Healthmart, Decker said he hopes to expand to every campus in North America.
McMaster is fortunate to be one of the first Canadian post-secondary institutions to work with My Lil’ Healthmart.