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The farm ministry will launch an online system in fiscal 2020 to link food banks with food donors to support needy people and families while cutting food waste, officials said Saturday.

Under the envisaged system, food manufacturers and retailers input information such as type, quantity and the delivery time of leftover foods they can provide, while food bank operators and welfare facilities enter the details of foods they need, the officials said.

The system will make it easier for donors and recipients to connect based on the information gathered.

“Many companies hesitate to donate food out of concern that they might be diverted into other channels,” said a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official.

The new system “can help such companies get information such as recipients and the amount of food they need, making them feel secure about donating food,” the official said.

Initially, the ministry is considering running the system in each of the country’s 47 prefectures.

The number of groups operating food banks around the country jumped to 105 in 2019 from just 12 in fiscal 2008. This compares with more than 200 in the United States, where the food bank system began in 1967.

Major companies such as convenience store operator Lawson Inc. and fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan Ltd. have started providing leftover food to those in need through such food banks.

Last May, the Diet passed legislation to promote the reduction of food waste after images showing a huge amount of discarded seasonal sushi rolls, which went viral on social media, thrust the issue into the spotlight.

First published in The Japan Times on Jan. 19.

Warm up

One minute chat about what you ate yesterday.


Collect words related to food,

e.g: dinner, eat, diet, nutrition

New words

1) needy: those in need of assistance, e.g., “The shelter provides beds for needy people.”

2) envisage: imagine, create a mental picture, e.g., “The company envisages condominiums up and down the coastline.”

3) leftover: something, especially food, that remains after the rest is used, e.g., “The leftover cash was put in my savings.”

Guess the headline

Planned online system will link food b_ _ _s with manufacturers, re_ _ _ _ _ _ _


1) What is the online system for?

2) Why do companies hesitate to donate food?

3) How do food banks in Japan compare to those in the United States?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What do you think of this system?

2) What do you think is needed to reduce food waste?

3) How do you keep food waste down in your own life?





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