The Maginhawa Community Pantry initiated by Ana Patricia Non has inspired many neighborhoods all over the country to organize their own community pantries.
“Kindness is contagious,” says Senator Kiko Pangilinan in a Facebook post. Bishop Pablo Virgilio David says these efforts provide “the clearest and most tangible signs of hope in the midst of the hopelessness brought about by this pandemic.”
In her interviews, Ana Patricia is quick to point out that the project would not have been possible without the efforts and contributions of the whole community in Maginhawa Street, Quezon City.
For people who want to put up a community pantry in their area, the foremost thing to consider is to ensure its sustainability. Hence, one needs to organize a group to support the cause. This way, too, the organizer won’t get easily exhausted from all the things that need to be done along the way, says Ana Patricia.
Here are other tips we gathered from those who’ve organized a pantry in their community:
Enjoin the cooperation of family members, friends and the whole neighborhood
Look for people in your community who are willing and able to help. It would be good to create a group chat for members who would like to be part of this community effort. Posting on Facebook and other social media platforms will help promote the project and facilitate easy communication with neighborhood folks.
List what you need
Make a list or an inventory of everything that you’ll be needing to set up the community pantry—from the goods to the cart/tables/shelves, to the boxes and containers. Don’t forget to include medical supplies such as vitamins, face masks, and hand disinfectants on your list.
Look for a spot that’s easily accessible
It should be near your place or the other members of your group organizing it. If many people pass by your area, you may want to consider putting up the pantry right outside your home. The community pantry needs to have an address for people who would like to drop in their in-kind donations.
Have volunteers to repack the items
It is best for some goods to be repacked before putting them in the pantry. This includes rice, eggs, monggo, or ready-to-cook vegetable sets (for chopsuey, pinakbet, sinigang, nilaga etc.)
Put up a sign
Put up a clear sign explaining what the community pantry is about. “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha ayon sa kailangan (Give according to ability, take according to need)” clearly explains the basic rule to be observed.
Encourage people to donate in kind
This would lessen the need for organizers to go to grocery stores and supermarkets to buy the goods. Organizers can also establish tie-ups with sellers so that items can just be delivered to the area where the community pantry is located.
Make it easy for donors to send in their cash donations
Online transactions will make it easier and safer for both parties. Be transparent in reporting your accounting, so donors know where their money goes.
Keep the goods display organized
Provide containers and boxes to sort out the goods so it’s easy for people to take their picks and they don’t linger in the area.