Uber Eats Providing Free Meals to Low-Income Families Using food to create community bonds
Meals are indispensable for a child’s growth. In Japan, it is estimated that one in seven children lives in relative poverty,* meaning that many children rely on school meals for sufficient nutrition. With schools closed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, these meals are not being provided, however, and these children are losing the chance to eat nutritious meals.
- Relative poverty is defined as having a household income of less than half of the national median household disposable income, adjusted for the number of persons in the household. In addition to having difficulty affording bare necessities, children in these households miss out on a variety of experiences and are disadvantaged in numerous ways.
Uber Eats food delivery service
As part of Uber’s global Move What Matters project to provide free transportation and meals in response to the new coronavirus, in Japan Uber Eats has begun providing roughly 40,000 meals to support these households living in relative poverty, as well as households with seriously ill children, and medical practitioners treating COVID-19 patients. The company will provide 30,000 meals to medical workers through participating medical institutions, and 10,000 meals to low-income families and families with seriously ill children through facilities to support these families set up by The Nippon Foundation.
The Foundation supports small, neighborhood facilities that provide a place for children to study and play outside of school hours and sometimes provide meals. Some of these facilities are using this as an opportunity to keep in touch with children who formerly visited the facility but are now staying at home in response to the new coronavirus. Uber Eats delivers the meals to the facility, and the children can come to the facility to pick them up or the staff will deliver them to individual households. This gives the staff an opportunity to see the children, and the children an opportunity to talk to the staff for a few minutes. A staff member at one facility commented that thanks to the program they were able to visit a child they had not seen in a month. They were concerned because the child was apparently only having one meal a day and had lost weight, but by delivering a meal to the child’s house they were able to alleviate the child’s sense of isolation and give them a boost both emotionally and nutritionally.
Looking out for children and families that tend to become isolated
Uber Eats began providing free meals to these children and their families as a way of giving them time to enjoy eating meals together. Commenting on the needs of the children and parents, the manager of one facility noted that the children and parents who use their facility often give the impression of tending to be socially isolated. Although it is important to stay at home to prevent the spread of infections, in some households being at home all the time can increase certain risks. While maintaining measures to prevent infection, taking delivery of meals and saying hello to a neighbor can create at least some sense of bonding with their surroundings, and can relieve these risks. The manager expressed their hope that they will be able to carry out a variety of activities so that after the new coronavirus is brought under control and schools reopen, the children will be as healthy as they were before schools closed.
Uber Eats has also responded to the spread of the new coronavirus with programs to provide financial support to delivery partners and drivers and to support small and medium-sized restaurants, and has also launched a “Stay Home” promotional campaign. In addition to government and corporate support measures, however, a feeling of community support through the bonds created by saying hello and asking about our neighbors will be important for overcoming this unprecedented crisis.
Public Relations Team
The Nippon Foundation
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