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“We don’t just give food, we should teach how to grow our own food” – Sustainable Community Pantries

June 18, 2021

MANILA, 18 June 2021 — The 49th episode of “Stories for a Better Normal: Pandemic and Climate Pathways” featured five founders of zero-waste and innovative community pantries that exhibit not only generosity and consideration, but also sustainable and green practices to inspire more Filipinos to reduce the use of plastic packaging and to plant their own food at their homes.

The online conversation conceptualized and hosted by three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda featured community pantry organizers including Adeline Almelor from Brgy. San Miguel, Iriga City Camarines Sur Zero Waste Community Pantry; Jay-vee Mendoza from Anahaw, San Pedro, Laguna Community Plant-ry; Edren Llanillo, Co-founder of Go Bike Project, Bugallon, Pangasinan; Maricon Alvarez from Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) Malabon Community Pantry; and Evelyn Vergara, Founder of the Community Reading Pantry of Tabotong Elementary School in Saranggani Province.

“Dapat hangaan ang mga community pantries sa innovation, sa bayanihan, sa unique na ugali ng mga Pilipino na tumulong hangga’t kaya, at sa honesty ng mga Pilipino na kukuha lang ng kaya niyang kainin at ng kanyang pamilya,” said Legarda.

The guest organizers shared how their community pantries allow people to donate and get food and basic necessities for free, while others distribute vegetable seeds and plants to help people grow their own food. Other pantries also delivered healthcare and educational services.

“Nakakataba talaga ng puso na maging daluyan ng pagtutulungan. As we highlight the gift of sharing, we are happy to show and hopefully to inspire others that there are many alternatives to single-use plastics,” said Almelor.

“Ang slogan po ng Anahaw Community Pantry ay ‘Take what you can plant, share what others can sow.’ Ito ay inspired sa community pantry ng Maginhawa although nilagyan namin ng konting twist – ang sine-share namin dito at plants, seedlings and knowledge sa pagtatanim,” said Mendoza.

“Simple lamang ang konsepto ng GO BIKE Project, una mag-train ng mga kabataan para maging emergency responders, maging first aiders na tutugon sa panahon ng sakuna, pangalawa mag-customize, mag-disenyo ng mga bisikletang gagamitin nila upang tumugon doon sa mga aksidente, o para magbigay ng first aid sa sino man nangangailangan ng tulong. It’s a combination of a youth na biker volunteers, first aider, tapos meron na rin silang gagamiting bike in saving lives,” said Llanillo.

“Nang dumating ang community pantry, naisip namin na ang ganda ng konsepto na tumutulong ka. Why not help the community people na nakakausap natin sa araw araw na turuan sila i-embrace yung konsepto ng zero waste?” said Alvarez.

“Ginawa namin ang Reading Community Pantry, na kung saan inilabas namin ang reading materials from our reading corner sa school at inilatag sa pantry, kasama ng mga snacks na binili galing sa sariling bulsa,” said Vergara.

A community pantry is a service that offers goods directly to locals. It operates on trust systems and banners the slogan, “Take what you need, give what you can.” The first community pantry during the pandemic was set up in Maginhawa in Quezon City.

Legarda then encouraged the viewers and other community pantries to adopt sustainable practices – by giving people seeds and plants for people to grow in their homes, instead of just giving canned goods, noodles, and instant foods.

“Hindi lang dapat bigay ng bigay, hindi tayo dapat forever na umaasa sa iba. ‘We should give a man a fish, but also teach him how to fish’. In this case, we give the person a seed, so that that person can grow his/her own food. We give human a food, but it’s better to teach the person how to grow their own food,” Legarda concluded.

As an online discussion to promote health, environmental consciousness, and climate-adaptive practices, “Stories for a Better Normal” aims to change the mindset of individuals, families, and communities by demonstrating ways in which a ‘better normal’ can be realized within our communities.

This online discussion is organized in partnership between the Office of Deputy Speaker Legarda and the Climate Change Commission, with support from the Department of Education, Philippine Information Agency, Mother Earth Foundation, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, and The Climate Reality Project-Philippines. ###