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Filipinos set up community pantries for the poor

Catholic bishops urge churchgoers to share what food they have with the hungry during pandemic

Filipinos set up community pantries for the poor

Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, left, and volunteers in his diocese have set up a community pantry project. (Photo courtesy of Bishop David)

Parishioners have set up community pantries in the Philippine capital Manila to prevent the city’s poor from going hungry during the Covid-19 pandemic.

They are providing foodstuffs like eggs, canned goods, fruit and vegetables for residents suffering from hunger and food insecurity.

Organizers are encouraging others to share what they have by putting them on the pantry table to ensure a steady supply of food across Manila.

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“Most community pantries are open from 6am to 6pm and restocked by the members of the community ... This is not a charity. This is like mutual aid. We’re helping each other,” Ana Patricia Non, one organizer, told the Inquirer news daily.

In less than a week, Non said the pantry in her community in Quezon City has served around 3,000 individuals.

“Ordinary people come to replenish stocks in order to sustain the project. It is amazing to see people help their fellow human beings, especially those who are hungry during the pandemic,” she said.

This is perhaps the best chain reaction I have ever heard of in this time of crisis

Residents using the pantry said the project is a godsend during such hard times.

“When lining up we observe health protocols … we only take food based on what we need daily. This is a great help for us, especially for those who lost their jobs because of Covid-19. I am one of them,” Quezon City resident Francis Janer told UCA News.

At least three Catholic bishops have expressed support and set up community pantries in their own dioceses.

KalookanBishop Pablo Virgilio David announced the setting up of one at San Roque Cathedral on April 18.

“This is perhaps the best chain reaction I have ever heard of in this time of crisis. Remember, we are gifted to give. Please, wherever we can, let us put up one of these community pantries,” Bishop David said.

Manila apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo praised the project as showing the spirit of the Filipinos’ bayanihan.

Bayanihan is a Filipino custom that refers to the spirit of communal unity, work and cooperation to achieve a particular goal.

“I encourage priests, parishes and the basic ecclesial communities to join this initiative. This is a very good way of spreading generosity,” Bishop Pabillo told Radio Veritas.

Caritas Philippines, the Catholic Church’s social arm, has also started community panties in depressed areas in the Philippine capital.

“It is one of the most Christian responses at a time when self-preservation and addiction to power are very eminent,” said Caritas chief Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan.

“With the pandemic, the number of poor has increased exponentially. Thus, the need for a concerted localized effort to respond to the problem.” 

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