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Japan's Lawson to give rice balls away to day cares amid school closure

A Lawson convenience store sign is seen. (Mainichi/Kazuhisa Soneda)

TOKYO -- Convenience store chain Lawson Inc. announced on March 2 that it would donate 30,000 "onigiri" rice balls to child care facilities during the temporary nationwide school closure due to coronavirus concerns.

Many after-school day cares are looking after children starting in the morning due to the suspension of classes.

The company will provide the onigiri -- with fillings including tuna with mayonnaise, seasoned bonito flakes, salmon, and seasoned kelp -- to facilities that request the free food as a replacement for the children's usual school lunches. The move is intended to help take some of the burden of meal preparation off of parents and guardians.

Most prefectures across Japan began shuttering their primary, junior high and high schools on March 2, in accordance with a request issued by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Feb. 27.

The onigiri will be distributed in three installments, on March 10, 17 and 24, and delivered right to the doors of child care facilities by Lawson employees or courier companies. Each facility will be eligible to receive up to 200 rice balls, with each child in-line for two of the snacks. The food will be, in principle, distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The firm said that details on how to apply for the onigiri giveaway will be posted on the Lawson website on March 3.

(Japanese original by Kenji Wada, Business News Department)

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