How it all began

PhotoGRAPH courtesy of AP Non The humble cart of food that inspired other community efforts.

On 14 April at 96 Maginhawa Street in Teachers’ Village East, Quezon City, the first community pantry was set up by Ana Patricia Non.

It was a small bamboo cart with food items, from canned meats to vegetables, as well as masks, soap and vitamin supplements, and a sign that said, “Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, Kumuha batay sa pangangailangan (Give what you can. Take only what you need),” seemingly a variation of the Karl Marx’s “Jeder nach seinen Fähigkeiten, jedem nach seinen Bedürfnissen (From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs)” in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program.

Non announced the effort on her Facebook page, saying, “Wag mahiyang kumuha andun lang po iyun. May hand sanitizer din para sa mga kukuha at mag-iiwan. Kung kayo ay nasa neighborhood pwede din kayo mag-iwan sa community pantry ng groceries, andun lang iyon from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Kung sakaling malayo ka naman pwede ka magsimula ng community pantry sa inyong lugar. Salamat! (Don’t be shy in taking some; they are there. There is a hand sanitizer for those who will take and those who will give. If you are in the neighborhood, you can leave groceries at the community pantry. It will be there from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you live far, you can set up a community pantry at your own area. Thank you)!”

People began contributing to the pantry including a group of farmers from Paniqui, Tarlac, who sent over sacks of sweet potatoes, on 16 April.

The community pantry is reminiscent of episodes of the television series Fear the Walking Dead. In the series set in a world during the zombie apocalypse, a group of people do the seemingly most impractical thing — leave boxes of food, water, medicine and other essential things for other people along the road, supplies that may save other people’s lives — with a message, “Take what you need, leave what you don’t,” offering a glimmer of hope and humanity in a dead world.

Non is the daughter of Zena Bernardo, who was among the 10 feeding program volunteers arrested and illegally detained by police allegedly for “Illegal assembly” when they provided free food to disenfranchised jeepney drivers in May last year.


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