How a Non-Profit Aims to "Change the World with Onigiri"

The the simple and unassuming onigiri, or rice ball, is deeply rooted in Japanese culinary culture and has been a staple in that country for centuries. It’s the ultimate grab-and-go food that makes a great midday snack or a kawaii addition to any bento. There are even references to onigiri in the Japanese folktales “The Crab versus the Monkey” and “Omusubi Kororin.” And for many survivors of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown in Tohoku on March 11, 2011, onigiri was one of their only sources of sustenance for months during their evacuation period.

From now until November 30, eating onigiri here in New York can help feed other children in need.

Table for Two (TFT), a non-profit organization that was founded in Japan in 2007 and has offices in 14 countries, works to combat obesity in developed countries while eradicating malnutrition in impoverished ones. TFT USA provides healthy food options with their TFT-branded meals and snacks and, with twenty-five cents from each sale, contributes school lunches that feed hungry children in East African countries including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania.

TFT began a World Food Day Campaign on October 11 in an effort to “change the world with onigiri.” The non-profit is asking everyone to participate by taking pictures of themselves making and eating onigiri and then posting those photos to TFT’s website or on social media using the hashtag #OnigiriAction. For each photo that is posted, TFT’s partner organizations will provide five school meals to children in need.

Table for Two, TFT, TFT USA, onigiri, omusubi, rice ball, World Food Day, BentOn Cafe, NYC, Japan, #OnigiriAction, eradicate hunger

It’s that simple to help others while enjoying a delicious snack!

You can make your own onigiri with this handy guide from Just Bento and add your favorite fillings, such as umeboshi, kombu, salted salmon, tuna and mayonnaise, and shrimp tempura. The possibilities are endless.

Don’t feel like making onigiri on your own? There are plenty of places in the city where you can purchase them, including Dainobu, Sunrise Mart, Panya, and BentOn Café, which is selling healthy onigiri in support of TFT’s World Food Day Campaign.

JapanCulture•NYC participated by going to BentOn Café’s Financial District shop for their Plum Leaf and Hijiki with Brown Rice and Kombu with Five-Grain Rice onigiri.


World Food Day is Sunday, October 16, and TFT will have a booth at JAPAN Fes. in the Upper West Side. Be sure to visit them to find out more ways in which you can contribute.

At the time of this writing, people from all over the world have posted 1,394 pictures of onigiri. That’s almost 7,000 school meals for children in need! There is no limit to the number of onigiri pictures you can post, so make or purchase the snack of Japan and start snapping away. And maybe we really can change the world with onigiri.