Lawson Inc. has started an experiment to provide unsold fried food at one of its Tokyo shops to a special cafeteria that offers free or inexpensive meals to children.
The experiment, the first of its kind in the country, is aimed at reducing food loss and waste as well as helping with childcare. The convenience store operator hopes to make it a starting point to expand food support for children across the country.
The test will be conducted at Lawson's Gate City Ohsaki Atrium shop in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo until the end of February. A freezer that can blast-freeze food in 10 minutes to an hour is installed at the shop.
Fried food products that go un-selling for six hours after being cooked are put in the freezer and kept in the freezer. Kodomo shokudo special cafeteria staff go to the shop once a week to collect frozen fried food.
For the last three years, Lawson has been contemplating what can the company do to reduce the amount of unsold fried food at its stores. After coming up with a way to supply leftover food in a hygienic manner that does not strain its stores, the Shinagawa-based company asked the ward to collaborate on the project.
Yukie Yamaguchi, an assistant manager at Lawson's sustainable development goals promotion office, said that it is not only about saving food but also offering support to people in need.
On January 17, about 60 children and parents came to the cafeteria on the first day of the experiment. Curry rice, salad and two types of fried chicken popular at Lawson were on the day's menu. The children happily ate the chicken.
Only in December, the cafeteria resumed serving meals at the facility.
The karaage-kun fried chicken was very popular with the children. "Everyone was happy," said Marumi Miyagi, 70, the head of the cafeteria.