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LIVES Food Truck

by Hands On Tokyo
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LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck
LIVES Food Truck

Thanks to all your support, food truck “OOPEN" has been able to operate for three days a week, giving job opportunities to 7 persons with disabilities.
We are able to give opportunities to volunteers to cook with people with disabilities and to sell lunch boxes with people with disabilities.
This has given motivation and hope for all people involved.

This food truck project started after the first LIVES TOKYO 2017 event, with a passionate wish, to promote employment for people with disabilities.
Since then, in 2018, we went to different events and served food to raise awareness of a great model case where people with different abilities work together.
Our goal was to be able to sell at universities, involving university student volunteers.

From April 2019, we started to sell at two universities, Meiji University and Showa Women’s University, on Thursdays and Fridays.  Cooking was done on Wednesdays.
For some students, it was their first time to work and communicate with people with disabilities.  But through working together, we all bonded and became a team.
After all, we are all humans with different abilities.  By focusing on what each person can do and what each person is good at, we learned that we can start and create
something fun and meaningful.

From last October, we have been talking with the social welfare organisation in the community, called “Ancienne AI” to see if we can work together.
Ancienne AI operates a french restaurant, and they work with many people with disabilities in the Setagaya-ku community.  We wanted to work closely with them to expand
our sources of people we can involve, and finally came to an agreement to work in collaboration from April 2020.  An amazing progress.

Hands On Tokyo LIVES - Universities and students  - Community - People with Disabilities.  Collaboration between these four sectors will expand the opportunities to create awareness as well as to hire more people with disabilities from the community.  Hands On Tokyo can now start to bring companies into this collaboration to support the employment opportunities.

February and March are spring break months for the universities, thus it is for planning, putting together structures, and coming up with new menus.
Although March events have been cancelled due to the corona virus incident, we look forward to operating again in April, when the new school year starts here in Japan.

This food truck project can only continue with the support of all the donors like you!
It needs funding to sustain maintenance and cost of the food truck, and we need your continued support.

With your donation, we will eventually be able to expand the operation to longer hours, and to different areas.

Thank you so much!!

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Thank you for all of your continued support for the LIVES food truck “OOPEN”!!


Since September 2019, we have been operating at two university campuses every Thursday and Friday, rain or shine, or storm!!  We sell 40 lunch boxes every time, and most of the time we sell out.  Some days were tough, where we could only sell 20 out of 40 lunch boxes, but the girls with disabilities that work with us, never failed to come.  They love the food truck job, and they look forward to their work every week. 


This semester’s menu is keema curry.  We will be selling this until January, when the school year at universities ends. 


We now have six girls with different abilities working with the adult volunteers and student volunteers on this project.  The girls are paid and are gaining self-confidence and learning the joy of working.  Since September, we operated the food truck 19 times and involved 82 volunteers. 


 We are also getting attention from the local government office people and from companies, that they would like to cooperate with us. House Foods Group Inc., has offered to donate all curry roux products for the rest of the semester.  Collaborating with different companies will help us reduce costs and together with the donations from individuals and companies, we will be able to sustain this food truck project.


At the event we held on September 16th, 2019, the food truck sold 160 pita & focaccia sandwiches.  This was a huge event, and the girls and volunteers worked so hard to have a great festive time together.  At the event, two companies donated their products; J.C. Comsa donated the pita bread for the falafel sandwich and focaccia for the egg and bacon sandwich.  A great Israeli restaurant in Nerima called “Shamaim” donated the falafels and tahini for this project. 


We are so blessed to be able to involve our communities and spread the awareness of joy of working with different abilities and age group.


Here are some voices of the girls with different abilities:


Riho  (has some developmental disabilities: she is hard-working,  happy, thorough, and patient)


Makoto (has down syndrome:  happy, always smiling, loves people and is learning how to serve food)


We thank you for your donation, and we look forward to your continued support to make this project a sustainable one. 

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Thank you all for your great support for the LIVES "OOPEN" food truck project.  With your generous support, we are able to sustain this project, which hopefully will be a great model that will create jobs for the people with disabilities through connecting universities, volunteers, companies, farmers, students, people with disabilities and their families, and the communities.

Food truck OOPEN started selling lunch at two major universities in Tokyo from April 2019. Since then, the OOPEN team experienced various incidents, i.e. stormy days and extremely hot days. However, through great teamwork, we were able to handle difficulties and successfully finished the first term (April ~ July) at Meiji University, Izumi Campus, and Showa Women's University.  We will re-start in the end of September with a new menu.  

We are still in the process of deciding the menu.  In the beginning of August, we did a taste testing of several different menus with the team members. There were taco rice, Korean bibimba rice, curry & rice, asian rice, etc.  We will do one more meeting before the end of September to decide what we will be making from the second term.

 OOPEN team consists of people with disabilities, university student volunteers, and adult volunteers. Four girls with different disabilities, joined the Team from the beginning of the term. Riho, who is now training at a work transition support faciity, comes to work for OOPEN, for two days every other week.  She was shy and did not talk to people in the beginning, but with her teammates, she can now converse, eat, and smile together. She now wants to challenge working at a regular company.

Other three girls also came to help with perfect participation.  Makoto, who does the reception desk every Friday told us:  "This is so fun.  I am so happy to be a part of this wonderful team.  Everybody is so nice".  She was always an outgoing girl, but recently she is becoming more confident in herself. Last month, she entered a beauty contest, and won second place. Bravo to this great news!!

Our main chef with intellectual disability, who is the founding member of OOPEN, was hired by Dean & Deluca in April, and is now working as their assistant chef.  This is a wonderful news, and our ultimate goal;  to connect them with the actual jobs.  People who work at OOPEN will learn how to interact with people, get to trust people, gain confidence in themselves, and find the best place for them to display their skills.  

On September 16th, OOPEN will again go to the LIVES TOKYO 2019 event.  One year ago, OOPEN debuted at LIVES TOKYO 2018.  Since then, with your support, we were able to realize our goal - to sell at university campuses. Our next goal is to increase the number of universities, and to involve the community more. 

We thank you again and appreciate your continued support.  Please share this project with your friends too!


Aya Higa


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Thank you for your generous support of the LIVES Food Truck. Your investments have allowed us to significantly expand the LIVES Food Truck and we are so excited to share our updates with us in this report.

As we mentioned in our last post, securing venues to sell our food has been the most challenging aspect of finalizing the Food Truck. We are proud to say we have successfully accomplished this goal. As of April 2019, we have started starting selling around 80 lunches per week-all of which are prepared by our paid special needs staff, Hands On Tokyo, and student volunteers. You can catch us at Meiji University`s Izumi Campus on Thursdays and Showa Jyoshi University in Sangen-Jaya on Fridays.

As of now, our special needs staff have mastered cooking a ratatouille and grilled chicken rice dish. This is a major feat for our disabled employees. All of them came in with very little cooking experience, but were eager to learn. However, as you can imagine, the reality of food industry was much more difficult; learning how to prepare food, make it presentable, all the while interacting with customers and volunteers was, initially, a very daunting hurtle. Our staff had to learn cooking and serving skills very quickly and adapt to new, and often, multilingual environments.

Watching them become more comfortable in their roles as chefs and servers has been incredibly inspiring. We are very proud of the bravery on taking on these new challenges, and we hope that you, our donors, take pride in them as well. We believe that they are an example of the powerful impact training and investing in differently abled individuals can have in our society.  

Twice a week, young people on two college campuses are able to see people with disabilities successfully run a small business. We believe that this helps breaks stigma around special needs people. LIVES Food Truck is proof that disabled individuals can execute various tasks in a professional environment and are fully capable of working within a team. We are so excited that we are able to share this message with young people, as they will help drive the movement of inclusivity forward in Japan.

Now that we have this strong base, we are looking forward to expanding the menu in the future. If you are in Tokyo area, we encourage you to come out on either Thursday or Friday-meet our staff and try our delicious and healthy!

We thank you again for your donations to the LIVES Food Truck. They are essential in helping us sustain and expand our program. Most importantly though, your donations help us to ensure that we can pay our disabled staff Japanese minimum wage- around 1,000 yen. Even if our staff worked at national welfare centers, they would only earn 50 yen per hour. With your support, we can ensure that our staff are compensated ethically and that they are respected as full-fledged employees. We hope that you will consider another investment in us so that we can maintain this payment system. Thank you and we look forward to updating you again in 3 months!

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Thank you to our generous donors and supporters of the LIVES Food Truck. Your donations have allowed us to expand in tangible ways. In 2019, we have not only increased the amount of students and employees that work with the LIVES Food truck, but also secured locations to sell our food, are actively collaborating with other NPOs, and cultivated a relationship with a local farmer in Chiba.

 Securing locations to sell our vegetarian food has proven to be the most challenging aspect of the LIVES Food truck. Fortunately, we have been able to partner up with two universities in Tokyo who have helped us to secure a permanent timeslot to sell food every week on their Showa campus in Setagaya-ku. British School in Tokyo, Showa University, and within a year, Temple University will all be on the same campus. We are looking forward to offering students from all three schools healthy vegetarian dishes once a week.

 Meeting this goal is the biggest testament to the LIVES food truck`s legitimacy, and the belief that our disabled employees are fully able to serve food and interact with new customers. We are both humbled and grateful for the university`s faith in us, and we to hope to expose our inclusive model to as many young people as possible.

 Additionally, we have partnered with other local NPOs who specialize in empowering differently abled people. In January, we participated in a winter festival for special needs children and their families, where we served 200 cups of healthy vegetarian soup. We will be selling our vegetarian dishes again at another event in the early spring hosted by Acceptions NPO.

 Acceptions shares our goal of empowering down syndrome individuals and creates powerful inciatives to raise awareness, such as the Buddy Walk on March 31st in the Shibuya Area. This parade is an unique opportunity for special needs individuals to march with an escort through Tokyo. Additionally there will be vendors and other special events happening throughout the day in Yoyogi Koen where the trail begins. If you are living in Tokyo, we encourage you to participate; there are plenty of volunteer spots on the Hands On Tokyo website and the LIVES Food Truck will also be selling our vegetarian dishes at the event. Did we mention a portion of our ingredients are locally sourced from a farm in Chiba! You will not only be supporting our mission, but support sustainable food sourcing as well.

 We want to say a big thank you again to our donors. Without your support, we would not have been able to begin this journey in the first place. We have grown and showed Japan what an inclusive and collaborative society with special needs people could look like. We are so grateful that you also believed in our vision and decided to make an investment in us. We will be sending regular updates and hope you will consider either meeting us around Tokyo or donating again. Thank you!

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Organization Information

Hands On Tokyo

Location: Tokyo - Japan
Project Leader:
Aya Higa
Tokyo, Japan

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