Community pantries strengthens sense of neighborhood in Bisktekville

By Jamille L. Obcena

The rise of community pantries across the country amid the COVID-19 lockdowns inspired Bistekville 4 and 8 in Quezon City to set up their own, putting the spotlight on the spirit of pagbibigayan in SHFC communities during the pandemic.

The officers of Bistekville 4 admitted that replicating the community pantry in their area started out only as a joke. But after realizing that it is for a good cause, Mark Jhon Vallena, the HOAI’s vice president, looked for sponsors immediately after quipping it to fellow officers. In Bistekville 8, meanwhile, the pantry was installed soon after its president, Randy Rafallo, told their auditor, Gerlie Mission, to find possible sources of donation.

The simple thought of giving in Bistekville HOAs has created ripples of enabling their community to give what they can and take what they need. Since their launch in April, Bistekville pantries have given not only food but a sense of neighborhood among the residents who were pressed to survive a day due to the harsh effects of the pandemic.

A day of charity

Count Mona, a mother, to the list of numerous recipients who were thankful for the good deed. The pantry saved her budget for food as the money dedicated for it was channeled to her child’s day-to-day costly medication for dengue and its complications. “Malaking bagay ang walang nailabas (na pera) sa isang araw para pang maintenance ng anak ko. Kaya malaki ang tulong ng pantry: na-save ang pambili ng ulam para sa pambili ng gamot.”

Different kinds of donations also came pouring in from generous benefactors. Cash donations were used to buy essential goods and fill the community pantry with sacks of rice, canned goods, fried fish, noodles, instant coffees, eggs, vegetables, and even hygiene kits such as toothpaste.

Bistekville 4 opens its pantry once a week while it operates twice a month in Bistekville 8. Officers of both associations made sure that the residents follow the health and safety protocols such as physical distancing and wearing of face masks and face shields while waiting for their turn in the queue.

Culture of giving

Some residents of Bistekville have yet to recover from the shocks of the pandemic, particularly loss of income. With the rise of the community pantries, they were able to at least make ends meet even just for a day. While some residents might need to get more food from the pantry, they think of others and uphold to its adage of “Kumuha nang ayon sa pangangailangan.”