DENVER – In recent weeks, groups of displaced Japanese citizens ranging from several hundred to more than 10,000 were served meals of US beef and pork, thanks to the US Meat Export Federation Japan Relief and Recovery Effort.

USMEF, in working with Japanese retail and foodservice industry partners, continues to provide meals to as many people as possible who were left homeless by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Products being served range from diced US beef and pork served over rice to pork sausage and cooked peppered beef that require refrigeration, which are being provided to those who can enjoy fresh-cooked meals at their shelters.

The USMEF relief effort was joined boosted by the Nebraska Beef Council, which donated $35,000, bringing the total campaign coffers to $540,000.

“There are so many people who need and want our help, but the generosity of the producers in the USMEF network in the US has enabled us to provide welcome meals to tens of thousands of displaced people,” said Susumu (Sam) Harada, USMEF-Japan senior director of trade projects and technical services.

USMEF is partnering with Japanese food industry giant Ito Ham to produce an estimated 20,000 servings of food that are being served to displaced residents in the heavily damaged prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima during the final of May.

Japanese restaurant chain Skylark has been serving an estimated 1,200 food servings per day in the city of Kesen-numa in Miyagi, which was totally destroyed by the tsunami following the earthquake. USMEF is supplying US red meat to Skylark to assist in its efforts.

USMEF, in working with the nonprofit organization Bond & Justice and wholesaler Meat-Companion Company Ltd., served an estimated 1,200 meals in Iwate and Fukushima last week.

Hannan Foods Group, a meat processor, and USMEF served much hot meals to a group of about 200 senior citizens in Ishinomaki City, one of the areas most heavily damaged by the tsunami. These displaced seniors enjoyed their first meal containing meat since the natural disaster struck.

Yoshinoya, a foodservice leader, teamed with long-time partner USMEF last week to distribute frozen gyudon (rice bowl with beef or pork) in the city of Tome, which is located northeast of Sendai. More than 900 people who were evacuated from the coastal areas are being housed in Tome, and USMEF and Yoshinoya worked together to serve an estimated 6,000 meals to those affected.

USMEF is in final discussion stages with retail leader York Benimaru, based in the city of Fukushima, to produce bento (lunch) box meals that would help the thousands of affected residents in that region.

“Sadly, the need will not end soon,” Harada said. “Thousands of people in the coastal areas remain displaced. But the support of US producers is making it possible for us to give some welcome relief. The people we are helping are thankful that their friends in America have not forgotten them.”