civic engagement

Community pantries highlight power of collective action

Kiko Mendoza

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Community pantries highlight power of collective action

LINE. Hundreds queue on Sunday, April 18, along Maginhawa St. in Quezon City for free food items from the Maginhawa Community Pantry.


Netizens also note that community pantries have debunked misconceptions about the poor being greedy and selfish

Patricia Non’s idea of a community pantry, which she implemented in front of 96 Maginhawa St, Quezon City, has spread like a “good virus,” with many individuals and groups setting up their own pantries across the country.

It was in early April when Non had gotten tired of complaining about the government’s response to the ongoing pandemic. She instead translated her complaints into action, filling a bamboo cart with groceries and posting a handwritten sign calling on all those who were struggling to grab what they needed. People were also encouraged to leave whatever they could share. (READ: ‘Pagod na ako sa inaction’: How a community pantry rose to fill gaps in gov’t response)

The simplicity of the concept made it easy for different communities to replicate.

As of Sunday, April 18, there are more than ten community pantries in different areas in Metro Manila and other provinces. Many Filipinos who are in need have both benefited from, and contributed to, this initiative. Fishermen and farmers have even donated to pantries despite their own struggles.

In an interview with Rappler, Non emphasized the power of collective action, and admitted that she could not take credit for the community pantry, as the initiative would not be possible without the efforts of her immediate community.

The ripple effect of community pantries

In just a week, the community pantry concept has made a huge impact, addressing in their own little way the gaps in aid the government has yet to fill.
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LIST: Community pantries where you can donate goods, basic necessities

LIST: Community pantries where you can donate goods, basic necessities

Netizens have also noted that community pantries have debunked misconceptions about the poor being greedy and selfish. Many echoed the belief that the poor are compassionate, for they fully understand how hard it is to go through a crisis without enough support.

Government accountability

Some netizens also said that community pantries were able to expose the shortcomings of the current administration. Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate pointed out that the initiative is a resistance against “government neglect and indifference.”

While community pantry initiatives were able to showcase the bayanihan spirit of Filipinos, some netizens emphasized that this initiative should not have been needed in the first place, if the government had just provided better access to food, jobs, education, and health care.

Ultimately, Filipino netizens are hopeful that these initiatives will have an even larger impact, and contribute greatly to the country’s recovery from the pandemic.

If you’re planning to set up a community pantry in your area, here’s how you can get started. Feel free to share photos and videos of your pantries and tag us at @MovePH and @rapplerdotcom on Twitter with the hashtag #CommunityPantry. –

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Kiko Mendoza

Kiko is a Community and Civic Engagement Specialist at MovePH, the civic engagement arm of Rappler.