Apply to Join

LIVES Food Truck

by Hands On Tokyo
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

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


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!

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!

Thank you to our generous donors and supporters of the LIVES Food Truck. Since our last report in October we have made tangible strides and are actively planning for 2019. There are three important goals we have been able to meet in 2018 that we want to share with you.

 The first and most important goal is that we are actively hiring and creating inclusive environments for people with disabilities. Your generous donations have been elemental in ensuring that this is possible. Thus far we have hired 5 disabled staff, who take turns working at LIVES Food truck events. Two of our staff have Down Syndrome, while another 2 have challenges socializing. Finally, we have hired another staff who is battling anorexia, but loves to cook for people around her.

 All of these individuals find the food preparation and interactions with customers demanding, but also said they are enjoying the work. As they become more accustomed to rigors of their job, they find they are learning and feeling more confident in their abilities. Watching their evolution has been highly motivating for our Hands On Tokyo staff and student volunteers. It helps us to know we are on the right track to creating an inclusive working model that can be observed and replicated by others in the future.

 In addition to hiring staff, we have brought on 16 students volunteers onto the team. Our students represent two high schools and four colleges. All of them have been able to build a comfortable rapport with employees. In large part this is a testament to their experience volunteering at Hands On Tokyo`s athletic and English projects with special needs people. It also a credit to the training and orientation programs we make sure students enroll in before starting their volunteer work with LIVES Food Truck. Overall, our students are learning how to make and foster inclusive working environments. We hope that the students will use these skills in the future to generate empathy and awareness around them in work and academia.

 Finally, we have followed through on our goal to sell food exclusively on campuses. It may have been easier to sell our food anywhere in Tokyo, but we have actively decided to stay true to our mission, and serve at 3 school locations. We believe that focusing on raising awareness with youth on high school and college campuses is what sets our project a part and one of the reasons why you, our supporters, have decided to invest in us. In 2019, we will be working hard to secure at least two permanent locations on campuses to sell our food weekly.

 The defining element of the LIVES Food Truck is that we empower and provide meaningful employment for people with a variety of mental disabilities. We have worked hard to ensure that our differently abled staff are not only able to perform tasks, but feel comfortable enough to work in public spaces with new volunteers. Supporting our staff has required a great deal of preparation and constant awareness and reflection of our selves. This, however, is what makes this project so fulfilling and meaningful. Not only are we providing support where it is needed most, but we are also learning and perfecting this initiative.

 We hope we can count on your support again in 2019, and grateful for everything you have done for us thus far. We look forward to keeping you updated. In the mean time, we wish you a happy holiday season from Youth Impact, LIVES, and Hands On Tokyo.  

Thank you for donations and support of the LIVES Food Truck. Since our last report, the LIVES Food truck has made significant, tangible strides since July. What began as as an idea has become a reality because of you, our investors. Your donations has been used to hire three mentally disabled individuals, insure payment to employees, purchase a food truck, and train high school and college students to act as supports for the employees. The food truck made its debut at the LIVES event in Roppongi Midtown on September 16th; we sold 100 plates of food and our profits were 60,000 yen. Another food truck event is scheduled on October 21st at our annual showcase of volunteer projects, Day of Service.

 Perhaps the most impactful and unique characteristic of the LIVES Food truck is the interaction between our young volunteers and our three mentally disabled employees. To give you some context, each of our employees has a different mental disability, which can make social interactions with new people an overwhelming experience.

 One of the employees has down-syndrome disorder and is deaf in her right ear. Another suffers from anxiety when meeting new people and struggles to speak. The leader of the project has a minor mental disability, but can also feel enormous pressure when dealing with new situations. The greatest difficulty of the project was how to help workers cope with anxieties, and empower them to take on their fears around unfamiliar situations and people. Having a reliable and trusted companion paired with each disabled employees makes social interaction and dealing with fears much easier.

 Our students are an elemental part of creating inclusive and safe working environments for the disabled workers. Their role was to encourage the workers, lead interactions between customers and disabled employees, and intervene if it was necessary. Learning the empathy, the skills to support and build relationships with mentally disabled individuals proved to be a meaningful experience for our students. Our youth are learning the careful balance and constant awareness the role entails, and flourishing.

 In preparation for the day, there were several tasting parties and training sessions. Our three employees made a ratatouille over potatoes dish, a recipe donated to the food truck by Chef Anthony Amoroso of the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. As part of the mission to create sustainability, the employees also had to make a dish that included okura and potato from a local farm in Chiba, which proved to be a delicious addition to the dish. On September 16th, the ratatouille dish was a vegetarian and healthy delight, topped off with feta cheese, lemon zest, and olive oil. Within the first two hours we had sold 50 dishes, and sold out by 3:00pm.

 Our debut was ultimately a test for our youth and LIVES Food truck staff to try out their new roles, and because of serious preparation and training, they passed. Inevitably, there are ways we can continue to improve, but the team is committed to learning from their errors and improving. If you are in Tokyo, we encourage you to try our food and meet our volunteers and employees at the Day of Service event on October 21st.

 Thank you again for your generous support of the LIVES Food Truck. The progress we made would not have been possible without your investments in this project. We hope that you will consider another donation and help us continue the dialogue on how to empower and promote people with disabilities in Japan.



About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Hands On Tokyo

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

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.