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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Second Harvest gives YMCA school kids food for thought


Staff writer

If you're getting enough food to eat each day, consider yourself lucky. Many others, even in wealthy countries like Japan, routinely go hungry.

News photo
Charles Mcjilton, CEO/executive director of Second Harvest Japan, gives a presentation Friday to students at Tokyo YMCA International School in Koto Ward. KAZUAKI NAGATA PHOTO

That was the lesson students from Tokyo YMCA International School learned Friday from the nonprofit group Second Harvest Japan, which distributes unused food to people who need it.

Kicking off a presentation at the school, whose students range from preschoolers to eighth-graders, Second Harvest CEO Charles McJilton told the students to think of the group as a "food bridge."

"What we do is very simple. Imagine here's this food over here that people aren't going to use," he said, noting the food wasn't old but would probably get thrown out anyway. "We are like that bridge to get the food from one side to the other side."

He noted that in Japan single mothers, the elderly and the homeless are typically among those who have the hardest time getting enough food.

Second Harvest Japan, which has also collaborated with other international schools, tries to remedy the situation by holding meal services Saturdays and by collecting food from various sources and delivering it to people in need.

The school is planning a monthlong food drive next month and will give all the food collected to Second Harvest.

Many students showed interest in the food drive and asked McJilton questions. He gave them tips for holding a successful food drive, saying that rice, miso and noodles are good donations and that bringing in expired food was not allowed.

One student said the presentation taught her that food is very important and to eat it "thankfully."

Another student said he realized people should not waste food.

John Smithers, program director at the school, said the activity is a way to "help the community," adding the school hopes to collect as much food as possible and make the drive an annual event.



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