• Kyodo

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The city of Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture, will set up makeshift diners to provide meals for disadvantaged children in cooperation with neighborhoods, officials said Tuesday.

The service, commonly known as “children’s diners,” provides food for free or at a low price for children from low-income, single-parent households and kids who have to dine alone because their parents are working.

While such eateries have been sprouting up on a private basis in Japan, the Akashi officials said it is rare for a municipality to take the initiative in covering such a wide geographic area.

The city plans to set up diners in all 28 of its elementary school districts by fiscal 2017 where staff at the facilities will share information on the children with schools, child consultation centers and other bodies to provide necessary support when needed.

“We want to make the diners a place where we work with neighborhoods and grasp what kind of situations the children are in,” Mayor Fusaho Izumi said.

Allocating a budget of ¥5 million for fiscal 2016, the city plans to set up the first five to 10 such diners in public halls, schools and other facilities by March, with meals being offered once or twice a week.

The main target will be elementary school students, but children in junior high schools and high schools can also join, according to the officials.

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