• Kyodo

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Seven & i Holdings Co. has started donating unexpired food leftover at its Ito-Yokado supermarkets in Tokyo to needy families.

According to Seven & I, it plans to expand the donations to more regions to reduce food waste.

Poverty is a serious issue with the relative poverty rate standing at 15.6 percent in 2015. The figure includes people of all generations in households with incomes below 50 percent of the national median.

The food drive initiative began in Sumida Ward in July at Ito-Yokado’s Hikifune store, which sends unsold items every Tuesday to Second Harvest Japan, a nonprofit food bank that delivers them to families in need and welfare facilities.

Last month, 99 items ranging from bread to confectionery were collected in just one day, filling five cardboard boxes, the company said.

“We are very thankful for the cooperation. The recipients are very pleased because a major supermarket handles a wide variety of goods,” a Second Harvest official said.

Seven & I will soon extend the food drive to Ito Yokado stores in Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa prefectures, where Second Harvest also operates.

The retail giant said it aims to find more organizations that can cooperate with an eye on taking the effort nationwide.

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