Second Harvest Japan is the country’s de facto national food bank, and after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, the organization fielded hundreds of requests from volunteers asking how they could help. Second Harvest scaled up its operations with restraint – CEO Charles McJilton was wary of allowing an unsustainable growth surge – but in 2011 nonetheless doubled the amount of aid it delivered over the previous year. In addition to its normal food banking, distribution and advocacy, Second Harvest set up an office in Ishinomaki, in the heart of the tsunami-affected Tohoku region.
Not long after the tsunami, I met Charles McJilton when we were both participating in a panel discussion about NGO tsunami relief operations. Charles’s explanations of what his organization does and how it had responded to need impressed me, and I approached him to ask if I could help with his communications efforts. Following that first discussion, I created a series of comics that tell the story of Second Harvest Japan and its activities, from food drives at schools and companies, to pickups of food from corporate donors, to weekly soup kitchens, to its relief efforts in the tsunami-affected north.
Below is a comic I made about food distribution in Ishinomaki, where in the months after the tsunami – and continuing today – many services were limited, and stores and restaurants not yet reopened (many never will be).
To see more comics in this series, go to http://2hj.org/english/about/library/ and scroll down to the Comics section.