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Community Pantry 'Monthsary': From one woman to a community of helpers

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 14 2021 09:09 PM | Updated as of May 19 2021 02:56 PM

What started as one woman's desire to help neighbors in need has become a full-blown movement seeking to help the poor who have been experiencing more hardships as the COVID-19 pandemic remains unresolved after more than a year. 

The initiative began with a humble wooden cart filled by Ana Patricia Non with vegetables and canned goods. Anyone who needed food to help tide them over their next meal could just pass by and pick up a few items. 

In a week's time, the pantries multiplied, starting from neighboring barangays in Quezon City, to pantries in villages elsewhere in Metro Manila, to several communities across the country.

Fueled by the mantra, "Give what you can, take what you need," the movement gets its life not only from donations from the wealthy but even the the lowliest of donors such as street vendors and delivery boys who, despite getting some items for their needs, donate anything they can in return.

The result is a relationship of mutual aid, where each participant helps prop up the rest thereby preventing the whole community from falling into despair. It's essentially the Filipino concept of 'bayanihan,' which is often depicted as a group of people carrying a traditional thatched house to a new location.

But the movement has given rise to problems, including organizers being branded as communists supposedly because their mantra is rooted in the Marxist phrase, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

Now a month old, the Maginhawa Community Pantry has evolved into a hub for relief supporting smaller community pantries with their needs. 

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This is where it all started. The previous location of the Maginhawa Pantry was a small bamboo cart propped beside a tree on Maginhawa Street in Teachers Village in Quezon City. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News.

When donations started pouring in, the pantry was transferred to this barangay building so as not to inconvenience the neighborhood as hundreds of beneficiaries flocked to Maginhawa Street. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Volunteers have multiplied, but so does the work that has to be done to sort out the donations for distribution to other community pantries. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Beneficiaries, like the UP Drivers Association, now get their supplies for their pantries from the donation hub. Quezon City May 14, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Another location that has become a donation hub is the church in Claret School or the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish. Donors buy the vegetables from farmers and bulk deliveries of vegetables arrive here from farmers who send them directly. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Similar to the one in Maginhawa Street, volunteers now work in the church to handle bulk deliveries, from unloading to sorting to distribution. Quezon City May 14, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The community pantry has also evolved from just a few individuals putting up small tables and carts outside their home to an organized group giving service and goods to those who have none or less in life. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

In one of the community pantries that sprouted and was patterned after the Maginhawa Pantry, this one in San Andres Bukid in Manila continues to help those who need food on their table. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Residents line up and get what's available from a pantry in San Andres Bukid, Manila. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

A man smiles and walks away after filling his frying pan with items ready to cook for one meal of a family. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Just like what happened in Maginhawa Street, volunteers flock to Claret School to help redistribute the vegetables to other community pantries. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

The organized supply and distribution also helps maximize the cash donations that have poured in via an online campaign. The goods are sourced from farmers who also need help in selling their produce. The farmers make sure a variety of vegetables are available. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

From left to right, Mon Anievas of San Andres Bukid, April Mostoles of Taal-Lemery, Joan Pablo of Pildera Community Kitchen, Jochel Bodegas of Barrio Villamor, and Jay-ar of San Andres-Sta. Mesa meet in Manila to mark the first ‘monthsary’ of the Community Pantry movement in the country. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Community Pantry founder Ana Patricia Non is seen on screen via a Zoom meeting with other community pantry organizers to mark the first ‘monthsary’ of the Community Pantry movement in the country. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Mon Anievas, a Person With Disability (PWD) and organizer of the San Andres Bukid Community Pantry, helps unload vegetables delivered from the church in Claret School to their barangay in Manila. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Volunteers repack vegetables delivered from the church in Claret School and Maginhawa Community Pantry for distribution to different pantries in Manila City on May 14, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News