Well-balanced meals are a luxury not all individuals can afford with ease. In fact, one of the core ways marginalized groups are continually given the ass-end of the proverbial stick is with cheap, unhealthy meals.
One Tokyo restaurant wants to ensure all patrons and passersby eat well, however, by offering the option to pay for meals with one, 50-minute shift.
Mirai Shokudo in Chiyoda,Tokyo, Japan is the restaurant in question. It’s been quietly praised by the Tokyo community for some time for offering individuals the option to barter their labor for their meal. 33-year-old owner Sekai Kobayashi told Asia One:
“I use this system because I want to connect with hungry people who otherwise couldn’t eat at restaurants because they don’t have money.”
Kobayashi opened Mirai Shokuo in 2015 with the goal of creating “a place where everyone is welcome and everyone fits in.” The former engineer is the sole employee of the eatery, which seats 12. All additional help comes from patrons bartering their meal in exchange for duties such as washing dishes, serving plates or clearing tables.
Customers still have the option of simply paying for their meals, with a typical lunch going for 900 yen (N2,900). So far, more than 500 people, including university students, have opted to work for their meals to save money and contribute to the restaurant’s commendable cause.
Truth-be-told, businesses with the option and ability to recreate Kobayashi’s socially conscious business structures could be a missing link toward nourishing communities and feeding souls. At the very least, it can directly help those who would otherwise have no access to a meal, and that’s a win for everyone involved.
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