Recently in Japan, The Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery, and Forestry (MAFF) issued its 2011 White Paper and included an article about Second Harvest Japan (2HJ)’s disaster relief work in Tohoku (Northern Japan). While food banking in Japan started 12 years ago, only in the last couple of years has the government become interested in food banking. In the meantime, food banks grew on their own by creating relationships with food donors and finding ways to get food to those in need.
Acumen Fund’s website says, “We will often be disappointed if we expect governments to create new solutions. But the public sector is an integral partner when we look to scale what works.”
If we hope to scale food banking in Japan, we definitely need the support of the government, both at the local and national level. Food Bank Yamanashi has been successful in developing a working relationship with the local government. Through them they are able to send care packages to those in need. This type of collaboration between a nonprofit and the government, unfortunately, is actually quite rare mainly due to concerns about privacy. In a different example, 2HJ received funding from MAFF in 2011 to carry out information sessions and public symposiums throughout Japan in order to promote food banking. These are small steps forward in developing truly collaborative relationships with both local and national government entities. Food banks are truly a public asset and it takes all sectors for them to reach their full potential of providing food security for anyone in need.
We believe in planting seeds. Some of them sprout at some point and often in unlikely places. We learned that from our own experience. If you don’t plant seeds today, you cannot expect to reap the fruit of a better tomorrow.
Second Harvest Asia will develop the regional food bank network in Asia to share best practices and experiences with other food banks. We hold online meetings regularly with Asian food bank members. If you are interested in joining our regional network, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.