Cabaero: Free pantry

Nini Cabaero
·3 min read

NOT many households know what a pantry is or what it is for in their homes. But thanks to a pantry project, communities in Metro Manila are getting free food.

Ask a family that does not have enough money to buy food to stock. Ask those who lost their jobs during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and who live from meal to meal. With the community pantries that have been sprouting in areas in Metro Manila, they now are able to get free food.

Based on the observations of those who set these up, they see people getting free food just enough for them and not to hoard. People realize there are others who can benefit too and the free food is not only for them. That is the concept behind a community pantry.

It started when Ana Patricia Non, a small business owner, set up a bamboo cart project dubbed the “Maginhawa community pantry” beside a tree along Maginhawa St. in Quezon City. Two days later, more community pantries on a cart or a box are being set up by people who like the idea of sharing what they have so others may eat. Anyone can start a community pantry, then when neighbors see it, they just might pitch in with their own goods to give. It could be for your own community or your neighboring community outside your gated compound.

The challenge will come in the ways to continue the effort, encourage others to donate, how to handle and store the food, how much food can one person or family take, how to enforce the rule that they take only what they need, and many other issues. This is why a community pantry cannot be the project of one person alone but of a group of like-minded, kind-hearted individuals who see the pantry as a way to give back to the community.

A pantry is a small room or a closet or cabinet, usually near the kitchen and the dining area, where food, grocery and other items get stored. Not many homes can afford to keep a pantry, so a shelf or two will be enough.

With Non’s initiative, the term “community pantry” is becoming known to those who cannot put meals on the table, much more stock up on food.

The initiative started in Quezon City but it could be replicated in communities all over the country.

Another initiative that was started and should be cloned in other cities is the Bayanihan e-Konsulta project led by the office of Vice President Leni Robredo. The project gives free medical consultation and care, especially to those who no longer could be accommodated in isolation centers and hospitals.

While organized by Robredo, it is the private sector that is making it work. Doctors and other health professionals give free service. Companies provide resources and items to be placed inside care kits for the sick who are recovering at home.

This project and the community pantry are efforts that succeed because private individuals and companies are helping.