May 17, 2022

The Westfield Voice

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WSU’s newest addition: Momba vending machines

3 min read


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Moms have made their way to Westfield State’s campus, but in a different form than most students would recognize.

Short for “Mom Robot,” three Momba vending machines located in dorms across WSU are stocked with all the things your mom told you to bring, but you forgot.

From earbuds, t-shirts and leggings to shampoo, laundry detergent and toothpaste, it’s a convenience store in a box that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just in time for winter, beanies and gloves will be added to the numerous items already available.

Keeping with the “Mom” theme, there is a cartoon mom printed on the packages, and even a loving note from mom inside some of the items. The condoms, for example, come with, “Have fun but be safe, honey. I was young once, too” written inside.

“They are a perfect asset to campus,” said junior Lilly Nevin.

The vending machines are located in Scanlon, Dickinson and Davis, mainly for first year students who aren’t allowed to have cars on campus. No longer will there be a need to take a bus to WalMart for college necessities. Students can walk down to the lobby and get everything they need out of a vending machine.

“They are definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen on campus,” said senior Collin Slater.

The machines were created by Steven R. Duque, who customizes them himself in his garage.

“The idea basically came from being a dirty college student,” Duque said, as quoted in the Republican.

The first Momba machines were installed on Harvard’s campus. Now, WSU houses three, and Duque hopes to install them at both Boston University and UMass Amherst in the future.

But he didn’t do it alone – he credits his wife with the idea for most of the products.

The leggings, $13, along with hair ties, loofahs, and nail polish remover were all Heather J. Duque’s idea. She also had the idea to put the items in packages.

“I know that I just wouldn’t want to have shampoo. I’d want shampoo and conditioner,” she said, as quoted in the Republican. “I also wouldn’t just want nail-polish remover. I’d want the emery board and the cotton balls, too.”

The vending machines take cash, credit cards, and Owl Bucks. Some students feel that the machines are on the expensive side.

“The company’s heart is in the right place, but they need to lower their prices,” said senior Mike Ellsworth.

But a percentage of the money made from the Momba machines is returned to Westfield’s financial aid program, for every year the school hosts the machines on campus.

“The feedback has been very positive thus far,” Duque said. “I’m grateful to the students and staff of Westfield State University for giving the Momba team and me the opportunity to help improve residents’ quality of life, while doing our part to make higher education more accessible.

“We’re excited for the road ahead, and are looking forward to getting feedback on current and future products to better serve visitors to Momba machines!”

Feedback of all types is encouraged. Duque and team are in the process of building a website where people can give their opinions and find out about promotions. But for now, he said, people can leave comments on the Momba Facebook page, http://facebook.com/MombaMe, and Twitter @MombaMe.

Kylie Coffey, News Editor for The Westfield Voice, contributed to the reporting of this story.

 

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