COMMUNITY pantries sprouting all over the country is the best news that we have in over a year in this dreary pandemic

It has been a year-long dread to read news of people reduced to cold statistics of falling ill, succumbing to the virus, suffering from loss of jobs, getting arrested over slightest infractions or worse facing abuse and deaths.

This week has been different. We wake up to the good feeling that out there in our community, our city, our barangay or our school, there is a reawakened spirit of helping each other. People donating food, people waiting patiently in line to get their share, and some giving back. Poor, middle class or rich people reconnecting with this sense of community.

The pantries started with just one effort in a street that is by serendipity called Maginhawa, QC. In less than a week pantries sprouted to more than 300. In Davao City, the first reported pantry was set up in Roxas Avenue by an owner of a juice and tea shop. It has helped trisikad drivers, vendors and food stall operators who have lost their source of income due to the pandemic.

The Assumption nuns set up their Kitchen of Hope in front of their college along Cabaguio Avenue, that offered sikwate and kakanin and this has served around 300 people daily. The Matina Community Pantry is an expanded effort of the ART relief community kitchen that has been ongoing for the past couple of years. They are serving food packs for more than a thousand community people every day.

This surge of solidarity, however, is met with a counter-virus akin to some quarters of this government, that of red-tagging some organizers and accusing them of having political agenda. This was met with indignation by the public who have suffered much from hunger and the slow action of the government. And if we look at those who initiate these pantries, we can see private citizens, religious, civic groups.

The Philippine Sociological Society have studied this phenomenon and said these community pantries “resonate with the public’s dire needs and brewing discontent in the context of a worsening economic and health care situation” and a “condemnation not only about the incompetence of the present administration but also a rejection of the capability of the current elite-driven system to effectively address the needs of the most vulnerable sectors of society.”

With that said, this is a counter-narrative to the government’s push that it has done an “excellent job” in this pandemic, and that people need to only stay home and follow the rules to curb the virus.

Now that people are coming together to find solutions, how long will this last? Does charity or solidarity have limits? On the other hand, what about the seeming greed and callousness that has plagued our officials to find better solutions?

As long as the land can provide food, and people reconnect again to a deeper sense of good, let this virus of goodness spread more.