TOKYO, Oct. 6 – Eat onigiri and change the world — a nonprofit organization kicked off a campaign on Oct. 5, asking people to post photographs related to onigiri rice balls on social media to provide school meals for children in need.
Under the Onigiri Action campaign organized by TABLE FOR TWO, for every onigiri-related photo posted on the organization’s website or on SNS with a hashtag #OnigiriAction, the campaign’s sponsors and supporters will donate 100 yen, equivalent to five school meals delivered to children in Asia and Africa.
The group has been organizing the campaign every year since 2015 around Oct. 16, the day when the United Nations celebrates the World Food Day. This year’s campaign will run through Nov. 15 with the goal of offering a million meals.
Bloggers with numerous followers were invited to the campaign opening party held on Oct. 5 to eat onigiri together and post photographs on their blogs.
Last year, some 110,000 pictures were posted from around the world, enabling the organization to provide 850,000 meals.
Rice consumption showing signs of increase
The campaign is also believed to contribute to boosting domestic rice consumption and improving Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate.
Rice consumption in Japanese households is recently showing signs of an upturn along with the increase of budget-minded people. Per capita consumption of rice had been on a declining trend after peaking in fiscal 1962, but per capita monthly consumption of rice marked 4.7 kg in fiscal 2016, up 6 percent from a year before, according to Rice Stable Supply Support Organization.
Some experts say rice consumption is increasing partly because more people are making meals at home because home cooking is budget friendly. If rice priced at 2,000 yen per 5 kg is used, a bowl of cooked rice – roughly 65 g – only costs 26 yen and a rice ball – roughly 43 g – 17 yen.
It is often said that Japanese farm products are high-priced, but most farms are operating at a barely profitable level and their efforts to reduce production costs are nearing their limits.
The agriculture ministry is calling on people to eat more rice, saying that if all the Japanese people eat one more bite each of rice a day, the nation’s food self-sufficiency rate will rise one percent.