While we strive to make the world’s finest freeze-dried meals, we have a higher purpose. This business is committed to contributing relief to the victims of disasters.
This is a true affinity for us due to personal experience with the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011. We were living in Tokyo at the time, and we traveled north on several occasions to provide aid and labor to the most impacted communities.
Clockwise from the top: Shelter with families each allotted about 4 square meters; pictured at right, co-founder, Teresa West, in Higashimatsushima; car wrapped around pole by tsunami; Wataricho homes in shambles; Neighborhood stripped to the foundations; Ishinomaki convenience store filled with tsunami debris.
The devastation we encountered was shocking. Especially in a developed nation like Japan, where every modern convenience is abundantly available. Some communities were damaged beyond repair, others were simply wiped from the map. In many cases, the modern conveniences—and even the transportation-dependent essentials—were stripped from the victims.
One moment that still haunts us was in the company of an elderly woman whose house our volunteer group was assigned to search for salvageable items.
Sadly, this poor woman’s home was beyond hope, as was her adjacent business. Even more devastating, she’d lost her husband and daughter to the tsunami.
At the end of the day’s work at her home, she caught us at the end of her driveway to apologize for not being able to offer us even water and crackers as a refreshment. In the next fragment of a moment, her expression changed, as she doubtlessly felt the impact of her loss. With a breaking voice she said, “I’m alone in the world.”
Our group was momentarily frozen as we shared this widow’s grief. We then stepped forward, in turn, to embrace her, saying, “Obaasan, hitori janai yo.” Grandmother, you are not alone.
That moment was indelible, and it will be a guiding compass for the social-impact activities of this enterprise.
While it is impossible to fully reverse the impact of such disasters, it is possible to reach out to the victims with assistance and kindness. Accordingly, a portion of the proceeds for every meal we sell will be used to manufacture meals for donation to aid groups addressing disaster relief and other groups seeking to lift up those in the world for whom misfortune has left them feeling alone.