A Japanese grocery store will open in New York’s Union Square as a food bank, opening in the first of its kind in the US.
The Suruki stores are intended to serve as an alternative to the usual food banks.
“We want to provide a new opportunity to people who are in need of support, to give them a new perspective, to be able to express their individuality, to express who they are,” founder and CEO of Suruki, Takashi Suzuki, told CNNMoney.
The stores will be in four locations: the flagship store in Manhattan, the one in the West Village, the two in the Bronx and the one on Broadway in New Jersey.
A total of 4,500 Suruki customers have already applied for food aid, according to the company.
Suruki is owned by the Japanese government.
The company said the aim is to serve a broad range of people, including refugees, those with disabilities and people who work in the food sector.
It said it plans to launch a second food bank in Japan in 2019.
Surukis aim to help people from all walks of life, including refugee, people with disabilities, the elderly and the unemployed, among others.
The food bank is being run by Surukishas partners, the Japanese National Council of Welfare, the New York Times reported.
In addition to the food bank itself, the chain is also offering counseling to those who are struggling financially and those with financial needs.
The chain, which has around 2,000 stores in Japan, is now looking to expand in the United States, where it will be available through a new website.