March 23 Evacuees encouraged with oven-fresh bread and canned soft bread
Reported by a JIFH staff member Tomoki Yoshida from Sendai
In the afternoon of March 22, Mr. Yoshihiko Akimoto, the president of Pan Akimoto Co., Ltd, arrived at JIFH base-camp in Sendai City in his van, filled with oven-fresh bread for 2000 people and several hundred portions of their Kyu-Can-Cho brand canned soft bread.
Pan Akimoto Co., Ltd is one of the JIFH support enterprises, based in Nasu-Shiobara in Tochigi prefecture.
Mr. Akimoto, accompanied with JIFH president Ryo Iwahashi, headed for Rokugo Junior High School in Wakabayashi-ward, Sendai City, where 1000 people were taking shelter. Offering words of encouragement, they handed bread to the evacuees.
When Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake occurred in 1995, Mr. Akimoto faced the brutal fact that most of the bread he donated for the evacuees ended up thrown away due to short product life. This experience inspired his baker spirit. After years of trial and error, he succeeded in inventing long-life canned soft bread, which keeps the savor of oven-fresh bread for maximum 3 years. Nowadays, many public entities and corporate enterprises stockpile Akimoto's canned soft bread to cope with emergencies.
The canned soft bread distributed today had been offered by his clients nationwide, who responded to Mr. Akimoto's request of donating the Kyu-Can-Cho canned bread they had stockpiled for emergency use. Words of encouragement handwritten on many of those cans by the donors brought tears into the eyes of the evacuees.
After the visit to Rokugo Jr. High evacuation center, they headed for Kasagami in Taga City, where a number of elderly people are left in food-and-fuel shortage in the vicinity of Shiogama Bible Baptist Church. Pastor of the church, Rev. Koichi Otomo, who had been seeking ways to alleviate their suffering, joined the distribution of the bread.
Receiving the bread, an old lady said "You've made my day! I just came back from a supermarket in disappointment. I queued for many hours only to find out that everything was sold out when it was my turn." Thinking of others in need, I don't feel easy receiving this much." she showed her consideration to others when she was in an extremely difficult situation herself.
"I'm a baker. I bake bread to make people happy. I filled my van with bread and drove from Tochigi prefecture to put a smile on suffering people' faces. You deserve it." Mr. Akimoto said with a warm smile.
JIFH president, Ryo Iwahashi unloading bread at an evacuation center (photo)
This visit to the evacuation center will be covered in a TV program "Gaia no Yoake" (TV Tokyo Network) in April.