What is Big Bento Lunch?

Big Bento Lunch is an annual fundraiser commemorating the March 11, 2011, anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Since 2012, the initiative has supported Unicef, the Save Minamisoma Project, Playgrounds of Hope and the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund.

What is a bento?

BentoA bento, or o-bento, is what the Japanese call a packed meal, usually a lunch. Bento boxes have internal dividers and sometimes several stacked layers so different kinds of food can sit in their own compartment.

When is the official date of Big Bento Lunch?

March 1-31. While the anniversary is March 11, we encourage Big Bento Lunch participants to host their lunch any time during March. We have extended it this year to include the month of April.

What does Big Bento Lunch do with the money raised?

Big Bento Lunch is proudly donating all funds raised this year to the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund. The fund aims to assist students, schools and families in the Ishinomaki and general Tohoku area that are still recovering from the disaster.

How else can I get involved if I can’t host a bento lunch?

If you are unable to host a lunch you can still donate. Head over to the Make a Donation page to find out how.

How do I pay my money to Big Bento Lunch?

Check out the Make a Donation page for more details on how to bank the funds you have collected.

Is my donation tax deductible?

As Big Bento Lunch is supporting an international charity – the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund – donations are, unfortunately, not tax deductible in Australia.

Who is JETAA Vic/Tas/SA?

JETAA Vic/Tas/SA, or the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme Alumni Association Victoria/Tasmania/South Australia (it’s a mouthful!) supports departing and returned participants of the JET Programme. The programme is a Japanese government initiative that brings mostly native speakers of English to Japan as assistant language teachers (ALTs) and sports education advisors (SEAs) in Japanese kindergartens, elementary, junior high and high schools, or as coordinators for international relations (CIRs) in local governments and boards of education. It is the largest exchange programme in the world. Find out more about JETAA Vic/Tas/SA.

What is the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund?

Taylor Anderson was the first confirmed American casualty of the March 11, 2011 tsunami in Japan. As part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, Taylor spent two-and-a-half years teaching English to kindergarten, lower school and junior high school students in the coastal city of Ishinomaki of Miyagi Prefecture. She was last seen helping and assuring her students after the disaster.

The main purposes of the Fund are to help students, schools and families in the Ishinomaki area recover from the earthquake and tsunami as Taylor’s family expects Taylor would have wanted.

What is the Tōhoku Great East Japan Earthquake?

Read more about the March 11, 2011 disaster here.

I don’t live in Melbourne or Australia. I live too far away to join Big Bento Lunch!

No you don’t!

While Big Bento Lunch is organised by JETAA Vic/Tas/SA, which is based in Melbourne, but you’ll be surprised to know that in previous years:

  • Big Bento Lunches have been held in every Australian state and territory since 2012.
  • The majority of Big Bento Lunch participants are schools.
  • The Japan Foundation in Sydney raised more than $1700 in 2012 – the single largest Big Bento Lunch donation.
  • Big Bento Lunch is entirely organised and run online.
  • Banana State School in rural Queensland has raised more than $70 for Big Bento Lunch. Each year the Japanese teacher at the school organises a Japanese lunch to coincide with classes about earthquakes and other natural disasters.

If you could like to participate this year but can’t host your own lunch, you can help by making a donation. Check out our Make a Donation page for more details.