Be a Mom or Dad of Your Communities: Join the Community Pantry Movement!

Community pantries are modern-day bayanihan centers that offer a unique way of modern parenting, taking care of more families than one, and encouraging the spirit of sharing resources and helping vulnerable communities

With more than 350 community pantries established since Ana Patricia Non’s Maginhawa Community Pantry hit the streets and stole the compassionate hearts of generous Filipinos from Luzon to Mindanao, thousands of underprivileged citizens benefitted and were nourished with food and other essential goods.

Once again, the spirit of bayanihan lives on. And the beauty and meaning of such a movement continue to inspire, motivate, and push us to contribute to the communities we live in. It is both infectious and refreshing.

Photography: Ana Patricia Non via Facebook| Maginhawa Community Pantry

“Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha ayon sa pangangailangan” (Give within your capacity, take what is only needed), the slogan the perfectly encapsulates the ethos of the initiative, is a simple yet meaty message for all with good intentions.

Never forcing anyone to give, but to impart what they can. And teaching everyone how to benefit from such a gesture is equally a responsibility to save some for others. No wonder many of us have gladly embraced this idea by donating as much as we can, some even establishing their own community pantries for their areas.

How can I help a community pantry?

Photography: Venus Joy Apresa Peña via Facebook | Community Pantry on Wheels

For anyone interested in helping a local community pantry, there are a lot of resources you can check out for information. This excel sheet, made by netizens is a comprehensive data map of all the existing community pantries in the country. Here, by filtering the location columns, you can find out which pantries are nearest you. If you need a more visual representation, this site displays a map of community pantry locations. 

When it comes to donating, there is no limit to what goods you can share. But it doesn’t hurt to be strategic. Think of what most families would need at the moment.

Top of mind are food items, hygienic products, medicine, baby goods like diapers and milk, and if you prefer to donate in cash, you can do so by contacting your community pantry of choice.

Go the extra mile by inquiring what goods are much-needed before heading to your supermarket of choice and deliver the goods yourself to lessen the work for the organizers. If you’re more than ready to drop off your goods, do check out drop-off points here.

Photography: @thirdworldgirl via Twitter | Concepcion Dos, Marikina City Community Pantry

Helping out a pantry is a way of doing our part as members of the community, regardless if we’re elected leaders or not. It is a selfless act of doing what you can without expecting anything in return. The rewards of such a gesture endure in the well-placed relief a family gets from your anonymous present. 

How do I set up a community pantry?

Photography: Fhelannie Joaquin Chen via Facebook | Purok 3, Brgy. Cut-cut, Guiguinto Bulacan Community Pantry

If you’re feeling a little bit extra and thinking of becoming a full-on philanthropic papa or munificent mama, you can also set up a community pantry within your area. But do consider several things:

  1. Make sure the location is an area which incurs a lots of foot traffic from the people who need it. Areas near main roads, on the fringes of gentrified locales, or even at the heart of districts, where blue collar workers and other essential workers (delivery people, food service personnel, medical staff, and others) work.
  2. Ensure you inform the people living within the area of your intentions since this will accumulate traffic once operations commence. While this is a noble cause, you need to consider whether the excitement of a gathering will cause disturbance in the area. Make sure it’s spacious enough to hold a kiosk and accommodate queues. 
Photography: @iamRaoulManuel via Twitter | Kalayaan Plaza, Quezon City Community Pantry

3. Consider also if there is an existing community pantry within a 500-meter radius—other areas might need more help.

4. Register your community pantry here to gather more resources for setting it up and to bring in donations. And lastly, once you head out and put your community pantry up, make sure you advertise enough so those who need it know where to find you.

Make sure you have enough stock as well (gauge your initial foot traffic, measure the first day foot traffic, then ration your stocks from there to avoid food wastage). If there is more left by closing time, be kind enough to offer all stocks to the last queued up people. Trust that these will be put to good use.

5. For other resources to help you start up, join the Community Pantry PH Facebook group where other members can help you out set up signages and provide you more important tips and information for your community pantry. 

Who else needs a community pantry?

Photography: Liezl Montemayor Razon via Facebook | Malate Community Pantry

You can’t deny how innovative and inventive Filipinos are. Several other initiatives have sprouted. The creativity is in knowing what other groups need help and supplies. Here’s some community pantries specific to other communities:

So put on your thinking cap and think of sub-communities near you that are waiting to be offered aid. 

Is there a limit to generosity?

Photography: @aeronposta_le via Twitter | Palerma Hills 1 Community Pantry

Of course not. But keep in mind what a community stands for: A COMMUNITY. A community pantry serves everyone—not just one person. The people who first initiated this response to a clarion call started this to help out the needy and underprivileged. Personal agenda should be thrown out the window. As the well-known parable goes, the Good Samaritan never asked to be named. The intention was to help with zero expectation of receiving anything. 

Photography: June Esteban-Ilarina via Facebook | Pangil, Laguna Community Pantry

Now, for sure you’ve read about people taking more than they need. Remind yourself that one, you never know if these people really do need these items. You cannot judge a book by its cover. And two, this not uncommon. If you make a pantry and start policing it, you will lose the authenticity of your actions. Pantries exist with the hope of people coming in will do the right thing for themselves and the next people in line. Give them that trust. You will surprise yourself of how much help you’ve given.

Order your Modern Parenting magazine's print copy:
Download this month's Modern Parenting magazine digital copy from:
Subscribe via [email protected]