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Supermarkets urged to help community pantry drive

Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - May 9, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Cebu City Council has appealed to the grocery/supermarket owners, big businesses and food manufacturers to share their goods and production and help in the community pantry initiative, either by setting up their own community pantries or supporting existing ones.

The City Council said such initiative has been of huge help to those who are economically struggling and are barely meeting their essential need for food sustenance amid the prevailing pandemic.

The council also urged the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) through ABC President Franklyn Ong to extend all help and support to community pantries existing in the different barangays in the city, especially on the aspect of crowd control and compliance of basic health and safety protocols to ensure that this project is sustained at this time of great need.

Councilor Alvin Dizon sponsored a resolution regarding the matter which was approved by the City Council Wednesday.

Dizon said more people who are struggling at this time of pandemic can be reached through the pantry project if this is scaled up with the national and local governments setting up institutionalized food banks and with private businesses pitching in to help.

“It is no accident that the theme that the Philippine Church has chosen for the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines is ‘Gifted to Give’ because it is through our faith that moves us to be grateful of the daily blessings we receive and for sharing these blessings to others and these community pantries highlighted the spirit of helping people in need and bringing the message of hope in the midst of helplessness and hopelessness,” said Dizon.

Dizon said the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the economy and has brought high unemployment, and with more people struggling financially and food insecurity, ordinary individuals have been doing extraordinary grassroots effort to help by initiating community pantries.

People from various sectors such as private, church, government, among others have joined the initiative to help the needy by opening their own community pantry.

“Community pantries have also recently popped up in many areas in Cebu City with inspiring stories of kindness, compassion, hope and community,” said Dizon.

Coordination needed

Cebu City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has urged those planning to put up community pantries in the city to coordinate with the EOC, barangay, or police station for assistance.

Councilor Joel Garganera, EOC deputy chief implementer, said this is essential to avoid chaos in the distribution.

“Good intention is not enough. It should be coupled with good planning. PNP (Philippine National Police) and EOC are always here to assist for the safe conduct of this very noble endeavor,” he said.

Garganera gave the statement following the incident in Barangay Mabolo Saturday, where people who lined up for a community pantry failed to observe physical distancing.

Authorities immediately arrived to help establish order in the area. Organizers also had to close the pantry temporarily.

Garganera said to avoid the same incident from happening again, there should be proper coordination between the organizers of the community pantry and the EOC, barangay, and police.

“Dili mana guinadili ang mga community pantries. In fact, it is highly laudable because it would showcase civilian initiative. It shows na in the midst of this pandemic, we are not alone,” he said.

“Nonetheless, they are not exempted from following minimum health protocols. Dapat gali na mas mo sunod sila para ang ilahang maayo na binuhatan, dili mahimong source of exposure and transmission to the public,” he added. JMD (FREEMAN)

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