We are on Day 4 of our community pantry in our village. The line goes on till the end of the street. To be honest, I don’t think this will work if it continues to be like this everyday. It will be no different from the “ayuda” our people have been used to. For community pantries to be sustainable, it has to blossom to many decentralized pantries proportionate to the community it serves.
If many small-scale community pantries exist in puroks or in cluster of streets in our village then people would not have to suffer and endure long lines like this under the heat of the sun.
The Community Pantries of the Philippines will never be the solution to the hunger and poverty of our people. These are just temporary relief. Unfortunately, in this pandemic, we may need to stretch these community pantries more to respond to the suffering of many of our peole.
I’m still trying to figure out how to do this in the context of my own community. But, at this point, the idea of encouraging others to set up their own community pantries is worth the try. I hope others would respond. It does not have to be big. Just enough to help your neighbors at the very least.
The most important things are that it remains true to its nature - an independent initiative of citizens in solidarity - and to the very core of its purpose - “Magbigay batay sa kakayanan, Kumuha ayon sa pangangailangan.”
Will community pantries last?
I hope the Community Pantries do not last because there will be no need for it in a country where the government truly serves its people. Citizen-run Community Pantries shouldn’t have existed in the first place if our government has not failed us.
At the end of the day, what I hope will last is the spirit of solidarity amongst our people to ensure that no Filipino ever gets left behind—deprived of adequate health care or food to survive—towards wielding their collective power to hold this government accountable and elect better leaders that will govern this nation.
In the meanwhile, let many community pantries bloom and thrive in the spirit of social solidarity.
[Leni Velasco is the Secretary General of Dakila, a community of artists, activists, development workers and many other passionate people “dedicated to building a movement of heroism towards social transformation” and “committed to innovating platforms for human rights advocacy, social change campaigning, and creative activism.”]