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Aichi food bank builds dedicated warehouse to support hungry families, reduce waste

Chunichi Shimbun

Nowami Consultation Center has set up a warehouse next to its office in Ichinomiya, Aichi Prefecture, dedicated to storing supplies for a food bank that feeds the homeless, struggling families and foreign residents in need.

The center, a support group to assist the poor, wants to get more companies to donate food by improving the storage facility and distributing food without waste.

The food bank collects the supplies — often nonstandard products or food close to their sell-by dates — from companies and distributes them to social welfare facilities and low-income households for free.

It has the double benefit of reducing food waste and supporting families, so organizations have increasingly joined the movement.

According to NPO Second Harvest Nagoya, which runs a food bank in the Tokai region, Nowami Consultation Center is the first support group in Aichi Prefecture to build a large warehouse exclusively for storing food.

The two-story wooden warehouse has a total floor space of 120 sq.-meters.

Four large freezers and two-tiered shelves have been installed on the first floor, which measures 60 sq.-meters. It has a capacity of approximately 40 tons.

The group also plans to install refrigerators in the warehouse in the future.

The second floor is a meeting room, where the center plans to provide free tutoring for children and organize other activities.

To cover the ¥11.6 million construction cost, Nowami Consultation Center received ¥6 million in private donations, while the rest came from working capital.

The consultation center began operating a food bank in 2010, receiving about 1,000 food donations a year from individuals and companies, totaling roughly 70 tons. In fiscal 2016, the group provided food support 992 times, in addition to operating a cafeteria for children and the poor.

However, the center had been storing its food in tents and prefabricated buildings, making it difficult to manage the temperature and condition of the food.

As a result, some of the food went bad before it could be distributed and the risk of food poisoning kept some firms from donating.

Meanwhile, the number of people facing hunger continued to increase and the center constantly found itself running out of food.

The group predicted that more firms would take measures if it tackled food waste, so the center decided to set up a dedicated warehouse.

“If we have a properly managed warehouse, it will make it easier for companies to donate food. I hope we can get more people involved in helping the poor,” said Norikatsu Miwa, 70, the director of the Nowami Consultation Center.

The center wants to work next on collecting from households and distributing the excess food to poor families.

Its working capital is running low from spending on the warehouse construction so the center is seeking monetary donations to cover operating costs as well as food products.

For more information, contact Nowami Consultation Center at 0586-72-9697.

This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Sept. 22.