The food truck parked in front of the Takamori town government building provides hot meals to quake victims in Kumamoto Prefecture.

TAKAMORI, Kumamoto Prefecture–A “meals on wheels” truck that provided hot food to victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake is now doing the same for people affected by the recent series of tremors here.

The food truck was brought to Takamori to feed quake victims in the neighboring villages of Minami-Aso and Nishihara, which were particularly hard-hit.

“I understand the food truck played an important role during the Great East Japan Earthquake,” said Takamori Mayor Daisei Kusamura. “Town residents have many relatives and friends living in the two villages with greater damage. The Aso region is unified as one, and during natural disasters, those who can help should do so.”

The idea for the food truck came from Shidax Corp., a company that operates karaoke parlors, as well as providing food services.

In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the food truck provided meals for about three years and nine months from August 2011 in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture.

The truck was then donated to the Soma city government. It can be used to prepare 400 to 500 meals at a time.

After the first major Kumamoto earthquake struck on April 14, Soma Mayor Hidekiyo Tachiya volunteered to lend out the vehicle.

Kusamura took up the offer, in part because his town was not as heavily damaged as its two neighboring villages.

Three Soma city government workers drove the food truck from Fukushima to Kumamoto and arrived in Takamori on April 22.

Shidax will provide the ingredients and workers to prepare the meals.

The initial plan was to provide meals on April 24 at the evacuation center set up at Minami-Aso Junior High School, the village’s largest. However, some evacuees there were found to be infected with norovirus, so plans were changed at the last minute, and the food truck began operations in front of the Takamori town government building.

A 40-year-old woman and her three children were among those taking advantage of the service. Her home in Minami-Aso was severely damaged, so she pushed up plans and moved to Takamori where a new home was already being constructed for the family.

“I couldn’t handle household chores because I had my hands full just cleaning up the Minami-Aso home,” she said. “I am so happy to be able to eat a hot meal.”

The food truck is scheduled to park by the Yamanishi Elementary School in Nishihara for one week from April 25. It will provide the main dish for lunches, joining the Self-Defense Forces, who are already at the evacuation center providing rice.

The food truck is scheduled to head to Minami-Aso the following week.