Fitness club Curves Japan champions food drives for charities

Kyodo

A women-only fitness club franchise has been promoting food drives among its members, aimed at getting housewives and others to donate nonperishable items to foster care facilities, food banks and other charities.

Since 2007, Curves Japan has been conducting annual food drives with the cooperation of its gym members. In gyms nationwide, the company collected about 265 tons of food, which was donated to 675 facilities in January and February.

Approximately half of an estimated 6.3 million tons of wasted food is thrown out by households annually. A large portion is also unsold food at supermarkets and items that have passed expiration dates.

“Members who are housewives will bring in their leftovers, from their year-end gifts, for example. The food is being used for birthday parties for children at the facilities that receive the donations,” said a manager of a Curves gym in Tokyo, who has been involved in the food drives since they began.

Curves Japan began the food drives in keeping with the work of Curves International in the U.S., where food drives have become widely established.

“We were able to provide an easy means for housewives and others who wish to contribute to society,” said Hikaru Saito, the company’s managing executive officer. “Not only can they work out at the gym and get healthy, but we want to offer a social action program that enriches people’s lives.”

Food Bank Yamanashi, an accredited nonprofit organization in Minami-Alps, Yamanashi Prefecture, works in cooperation with J-League team Ventforet Kofu. The organization donated 420 kg of canned goods and other food items it collected from supporters at soccer venues in July last year.

A nationwide food bank promotion council called on its member organizations to donate in a nationwide food drive campaign from December until January.

About 21 tons of food were donated from households and other contributors in the second food drive of its kind — substantially surpassing the nearly 11 tons of food that was donated in the previous drive.

“Through food drives we want many people to become aware of the problem of food waste, and spread this to make it an activity people can easily participate in,” said Hiroaki Yoneyama, the council’s general secretary.