Gov’t to replicate community pantry? Nograles says food packs reserved for families under lockdown, typhoon victims

Published April 19, 2021, 1:11 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government is apparently not aiming to replicate the community pantries sprouting all over the country but this does not necessarily mean it is not helping those hungry and in need.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

According to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, while the government welcomes the private sector-led community pantries, it is focused on implementing several programs aimed at easing hunger in the country.

One of these government programs is the allocation of food packs for families living under localized lockdown as well as victims of typhoons and other natural calamities.

“When we do localized lockdown, siyempre hindi makakatrabaho ‘yung mga kababayan natin doon so kailangan may tugon kung paano kakain ang mga kakabayan natin na naka-lockdown. Doon pumapasok ‘yung tulong ng LGUs, doon din pumapasok ‘yung support ng ating national government (of course our people are unable to work we must address how they can eat during the lockdown. That’s where the help of the local government units, the support of the national government come in) so it’s in that context we are providing the help needed,” Nograles said over ANC’s Headstart Monday, April 19 when asked if the government will come up with its version of the community pantry.

“Doon nakareserba ang mga food packs, doon naka-reserba ang mga family packs natin (Our food packs are reserved for these people). Plus of course remember, typhoon season is coming. Pagdating ng typhoon season, kailangan natin i-reserve ang mga food packs natin (When the typhoon season comes, we must reserve our food packs),” he added.

Community pantries have recently sprouted in Metro Manila and other provinces as the country reels from the economic fallout from the pandemic. Food and other essential items have been donated to these pantries to assist those in need during these trying times.

The idea was initiated by Ana Patricia Non, a Quezon City resident who set up the Maginhawa Community Pantry by placing a wooden cart filled with donated food and other essential goods. The pantry promotes the give-what-you-can, take-what-you-need brand of public service.

Former Vice President Jejomar Binay recently said the rise of community pantries indicated the people were looking after each other “when the government is absent.” “When the situation seems hopeless, we can lift each other’s spirit,” he tweeted Sunday, April 18.

Nograles however tried to dispel allegations the government has been remiss in easing the impact of the pandemic on the people. He said the government was “doing everything we can to address the many multifaceted concerns and issues on the ground.”

Apart from the distribution of cash subsidies and other relief packs to families in areas under strict lockdown, Nograles said the government has food assistance programs. Nograles, chair of the government task force on zero hunger, said they implement dietary supplementary program for children six to 23 months old as well as nutritionally-at-risk pregnant women.

He also insisted that the government cannot fight the pandemic alone, citing the need for public cooperation to overcome the health emergency. “Kailangan natin magtulungan dito (We must help each other),” he said.

Senator Sonny Angara has urged the national government, local government units, and private companies to establish their version of community pantries to help more people.

Read more: Gov’t, businesses urged to replicate ‘community pantries’