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East Japan city launches 'food drive' to provide surplus items to the needy

In this photo provided by the Ashikaga Municipal Government, city officials sort through the donated food items.

ASHIKAGA, Tochigi -- The municipal government here has begun a "food drive," a charity activity started in the U.S. that collects surplus food items from households and distributes them to people and facilities in need.

    The Ashikaga Municipal Government in Tochigi Prefecture received 301 food items from 29 people for the Oct. 12 trial, which were given to Food Bank Ashikaga, a citizen's group. The items will be distributed to "children's cafeterias," households in need, welfare facilities and others.

    The activity began in the U.S. in the 1960s and is said to be easy for citizens to participate in because it targets surplus food at home, unlike food banks that mainly seek donations from food companies. Food drives have begun to spread in Japan, and in recent years they have attracted attention as a way to combat "food loss."

    The Ashikaga Municipal Government is also working to reduce food loss as part of its efforts to promote the Sustainable Development Goals, and has decided to conduct the food drive at events including city-sponsored ones, asking citizens to donate food items.

    For safety reasons, only ready-to-eat and boil-in-the-bag foods, canned foods, bottled foods, dried foods, dried noodles, beverages, confectioneries, cooking oil, sugar, salt, seasonings, baby foods and other such items with an expiration date of two months or longer will be accepted. Foods with an expiration date of less than two months and fresh foods or items that have been opened cannot be brought in.

    Upcoming municipal events that will be accompanied by food drives are the "clean walk" to be held on Oct. 23 around the municipal sports complex and the "consumer life exhibition" to be held on Nov. 13 at the citizen's plaza.

    (Japanese original by Yuzuru Ota, Ashikaga Local Bureau)

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