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Community pantries pop up in Bicolandia

By Zyra D. Ponce

Inspired by the initiative of Maginhawa Community Pantry, which originated in Quezon City, more stalls of community pantries offering food donations have sprouted in several places in the Bicol region to help the impoverished get free food.

Jun Joselito Ocol, chief executive officer of Agrabah Ventures and founder of Naga City Pop-up Community Pantry, said that initially the community pantry in the city started in Queborac Drive in Barangay Bagumbayan Sur, where they offered vegetables harvested from their mini-garden, which include vegetable pear, eggplant, winged beans, tomatoes, and other basic necessities to jobless and hungry individuals.

A community food pantry is a free-food bank and a village-based program that collects and safely stores donated food and household products for distribution to low-income and poor people.

Ocol said the pantry is a mutual aid initiative sustained by generous persons who donate food items such as rice, canned goods, vegetables and other food products. He also added that after putting up the community pantry, he received several in-kind donations such as vegetables from Pacol Cut-Flower Planters Association as well as cash, which he used to buy essential items to stock up the food bank.

TABLE OF HOPE. One of the several community pantries that popped up in Naga City to help impoverished individuals who need food for their families.

Ocol assured authorities that they are following the health protocols in the distribution of food products.

As of press time, there are four existing community pantries in Naga City, which are located in barangays Bagumbayan Sur, Concepcion Pequeña, San Felipe, and one in Magsaysay Avenue.

Meanwhile, a community pantry was also put up in Pugay, San Jose Camarines Sur where poor residents benefited from the 3,000 pieces of pandesal bread, 100 pieces of assorted vegetables donated by the village farmers.

Pugay barangay chief Rogelio Chavez said the vegetables from the community pantry came from the newly-harvested vegetables of their farmers which were harvested before Typhoon “Bising.”

Community pantries have popped up also in Santa Rosa Del Norte, Pasacao, Del Rosario in Baao town, and San Roque, Iriga City.

To recall, the Maginhawa Community Pantry was started on Apr.14 by a 26-year old furniture business owner Ana Patricia Non. She started her pantry with a bamboo cart and a table filled with vegetables, eggs, rice, canned goods, sugar, coffee, and other basic necessities.

Non pinned a sign board on the table with the message “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha batay sa pangangailangan.”

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