A “food drive” is a volunteer activity in which people bring unneeded extra food from their homes to their school or office, where it is collected and distributed to local charitable organizations, facilities, and food banks. Food drives have been run successfully since the 1960s in the United States, where they originated, but in Japan the concept of food drives remains unfamiliar to many.
Over the past few years, however, this has gradually begun to change and food drives at work and school have become more common. Curves Japan, which owns and operates the women’s fitness club chain “Curves,” ran a food drive campaign in November 2007 calling on members at all of its 600 locations across Japan to bring food in.
Requiring only that the items be unopened, non-perishable at room temperature, and with an expiration date of February 2008 or later, Curves reportedly collected about 50 tons of rice, coffee, tea, sweets, and other canned, dry, and instant food items. This was then distributed to 300 local child-care facilities, churches, and single-parent support organizations.
Curves Japan found that many of their contributing
members had wished for a long time that they could offer some assistance to
those around them in need, but had simply never seen or had an opportunity to
do so before the food drive. As volunteer activities that are easy to
participate in and offer a direct connection to the local community, food
drives are surely only going to become more popular as time goes on and people
become more familiar with the concept.
Second Harvest Japan (2HJ) is delighted to offer know-how and advice for organizations running food drives or who would like to host a food drive. Food drives of various kinds have already been run in the Japanese offices of many major multinational companies. One international IT firm’s Japan branch ran a “rice drive,” asking their employees to bring rice to the office. Another company launched a food drive after a 2HJ volunteer who worked there made the suggestion to management.
“We bought too much canned food on sale and I don’t think we can finish it…”
“Our family receives so many gifts of tea that we just can’t drink it all…”
...Are you sure there isn’t any extra food lying around like this in your kitchen too? Why wait for it to pass its expiration date and be thrown out when you could put it to good use in a food drive?
Writer: Etsuko Ohara
Photos: Curves Japan
Monday, January 21, 2008