COMMUNITY pantries are Filipinos’ way of being proactive against hunger in the absence of government aid, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said on Monday.
“Nakakataba ng puso. Nakakalaman ng sikmura. Malaking bagay ito. Lakas ng taumbayan kontra sa gutom at kawalan. Naniniwala ako na walang pwersang mas hihigit pa sa nagkakaisa at sama-samang pagkilos at damayan ng taumbayan tungo sa isang layunin (It warms the heart. It fills the tummy. This is a big deal. People power against hunger and want. I believe that there’s no greater power than a united empathetic action altogether toward one goal),” Pangilinan said.
First started as a bamboo cart along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City, the Community Pantry encourages people to donate essential goods, and people are free to acquire said goods from the makeshift pantries based on their need.
“Community aid kumbaga, habang hinihintay ang government aid. O kung dumating na ang ayuda ay pantawid, dahil maaaring hindi naging sapat ang government aid, upang mapunan ang pangangailangan ng ating mga kababayan (It’s a sort of community aid while waiting for government aid. Or as bridge when the aid arrives because government aid might have not been enough to fill the needs of our people),” Pangilinan said.
“Kanino pa nga ba tayo kukuha ng tapang at lakas upang malagpasan ang mga pagsubok dulot ng pandemya kundi sa isa’t isa (Where else do we get courage and strength to overcome the challenges brought by the pandemic but from each other)?” he added.
With the tenet “Magbigay ayon sa kakahayan, kumuha batay sa pangangailangan (Give based on ability, get based on need),” the Community Pantry has now spread nationwide, with pantries being set up as far as Bicol and Bohol.
Emphasizing the enthusiasm for fresh vegetables and other agricultural produce, Pangilinan believes that the Community Pantry can benefit from plantitos and plantitas who took to urban gardening and farming during the pandemic.
“Makikita rin natin dito ang kagustuhan ng ating mga kababayan para sa mga fresh na gulay at iba pang produktong pang-agrikultura. Madalas kasi ay hindi ito kasama sa mga relief packs na pinapamahagi bilang ayuda. Maraming nagsimula ng urban farming noong pandemic — baka may pagkakataon na pagsamahin ang dalawang initiatives (We can see here our fellow Filipinos’ wish for fresh vegetables and other agricultural products. Normally these are not part of the relief packs distributed as food aid. Many started urban farming during the pandemic — maybe there is an opportunity to marry the two initiatives),” Pangilinan said.
The senator also plans to donate fresh organic vegetables from his Cavite farm in community pantries in Calabarzon.
“Mabuti na ito kesa masayang ang ating mga harvest dahil limitado ang napagbabaksakan matapos magsara ng mga restaurant dahil sa pandemya. Kung may sobra, ibigay sa mas nangangailangan (This is better than our harvest just turning to waste because our market of restaurants shut down due to the pandemic. Harvest surplus will be given to those who need them),” he said.
As of April 18, the Maginhawa Community Pantry has reportedly served 3,000 individuals in less than a week.