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Never Dine Alone

Worldwide, about one billion people suffer from obesity. And about one billion people suffer from hunger.
It’s a shocking imbalance that isn’t easy to resolve. As wealthier nations work on policy and environmental change to reduce obesity rates, poor countries are focused on ensuring their population has enough to eat.
The dual problems often seem too big to solve, but the organization Table for Two is trying to do just that, one meal at a time.
Originally launched in Japan, the non-profit works alongside restaurants, corporate cafeterias, universities and other major food establishments to create and offer healthier menu items. When customers buy a Table for Two-approved meal, they pay a 25 cent service charge, which is used to provide healthy school lunches in countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
“We’re trying to solve that imbalance,” says Mayumi Uejima-Carr, a Leader who founded the San Diego chapter of Table for Two. “If you buy one meal, you can buy one meal.”
Since its founding in 2007, Table for Two has expanded to 11 countries worldwide, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy.
More than 12 million Table for Two meals have been sold, according to the organization. 
A student provides a testimonial about the Table for Two program at the University of San Francisco.
Uejima-Carr became involved in Table for Two after reading a book written by one of the group’s founders about why the organization was launched. The book was a national bestseller in Japan, Uejima-Carr’s homeland, and when she moved to San Diego she decided to get more involved.
Part of Uejima-Carr’s motivation came from her own career. As a marketing manager for a big-name pharmaceutical company, Uejima-Carr helped oversee the management of a diabetes drug. It struck her that reducing obesity rates might help prevent the need for such expensive medication to begin with.
“Having a good diet, I would say, that’s the best drug,” she says. “If you’re eating healthy every day, you don’t need medicine.”
She ended up helping to create the San Diego chapter, and now serves as a regional chapter head. The chapter is partnering with local healthy-minded businesses, including the folks over at HUMAN vending machines, to raise money for hunger programs overseas. It also is working with university students to spread the word, and Uejima-Carr hopes to implement similar programs in local elementary schools to spread the word about the problems of both obesity and hunger.
“It’s a great educational opportunity for the students,” she says.