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Wholesaler giving fruits and vegetables to needy single-parent families in central Japan

Yumiko Suzuki, chairperson of the Numazu single parent association, left, and Harumi Osawa, chairperson of a group dedicated to school lunches in Numazu, second from left, hand over a collection of letters and a record file of their activities to Mitsutane Fukushima, general manager of the planning division of Numazu Chuo Seika, center, in Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture, on March 19, 2021. (Mainichi/Hiroshi Ishikawa)

NUMAZU, Shizuoka -- A fruits and vegetable wholesaler in this central Japan city has been providing their produce to children who are in need due to the effects of the coronavirus and other reasons, donating 500 to 600 cardboard boxes worth of food over the past six months.

    It all started with the temporary closure of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic from March to May 2020. In an effort to support the families of a local single parent association, who were in need of food due to the lack of school lunches, a group dedicated to school lunches in Numazu started a "rice donation" of 500 yen per lot.

    After learning about this activity, wholesaler Numazu Chuo Seika donated fruits and vegetables in October. And since November, the vendor has been preparing 10 to 20 cardboard boxes full of fruits and vegetables every Friday.

    Along with tomatoes, apples, oranges, potatoes, onions, and out-of-season fruits that have little commercial value, other goods added to the box include recommended local food for children, and food left over from preparing processed foods for mass retailers.

    Numazu Chuo Seika has designated the single parent association a purchaser at the wholesale market. Food with commercial value is classed as "purchased" by the association. For example, the wholesaler provided local ashitaba leaves on March 19.

    Since the company does not request payment, the accounts receivable for the recommended foodstuffs become uncollectible, but Mitsutane Fukushima, general manager of the planning division of the company, said, "Contributing to the local community is an important mission. We hope that children will become familiar with local foods and purchase them when they grow up. As a company, we want to work to reduce food loss."

    In response to the wholesaler's efforts, Harumi Osawa, chairperson of the school lunch association showed her gratitude, saying, "People say that they are just doing the obvious thing to do, but providing free food every week is not 'obvious' for us. We are grateful to them."

    Yumiko Suzuki, chairperson of the single parent association, said, "I was hoping that they would donate once, but they have been doing it for a long time. The children are happy, too."

    On March 19, both associations handed over to the wholesaler a file containing a record of their activities and a collection of messages from the children who received the fruit and vegetables as a token of their appreciation.

    (Japanese original by Hiroshi Ishikawa, Numazu Bureau)

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