ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Food security in times of the pandemic: Catholic congregations set up “community pantries”

Thursday, 22 April 2021 pandemic   caritas   solidarity   food safety   poverty   human dignity  

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - In the midst of the growing scenario of Covid-19 and its negative impact on poverty, food security and employment, the Church in the Philippines has launched the initiative of "community pantries" which collect food to help people in need. The initiative has already been launched in the Kalookan diocese in the Metro Manila region and supported by donations of money or basic necessities. The initiative's motto is: “Share what you can, take what you need. It is not charity, but mutual help. We are responsible for one another, following the example of the first Christian communities", explains to Fides Mgr. Pablo Virgilio David of the diocese of Kalokaan.
"This principle has never been so timely as now, as we are in a global crisis caused by Covid-19. Economies are in crisis. Businesses are collapsing, millions of people are losing their jobs and their livelihoods. Of course, those who are destined to suffer the most in times like these are the poor", says the Bishop.
The initiative is educational in the sense of solidarity and charity because it encourages the faithful to think not only of themselves, but also of the well-being of others. People from all walks of life have a concrete way of promoting the common good and the community spirit. "I believe that the pantries that have sprung up spontaneously in our diocese and across the country have already fed more than five thousand people. Isn't it already a miracle?", said Msgr. David, vice president of the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines to Fides. "The initiative encourages kindness, concern, compassion, generosity, a sense of solidarity and co-responsibility", he adds.
"Selfishness, self-centeredness undermines our level of humanity. The instinct for survival and the Darwinian principle of natural selection apply in the animal world. Our task as human beings is to take care of the survival of the weakest and most needy because we are different from animals. We are human and what really makes us human is our ability to take responsibility for one another, especially with regard to the weakest among us", Bishop David said.
The Bishop continues: "The tendency to accumulate, to obtain more than what is needed characterizes modern societies that are motivated by consumption and excessive production all over the world, where only a few benefit from the goods of the earth. The world is truly one huge community pantry and for a long time now there has been something terribly wrong with giving and taking... We should take this opportunity to correct this trend and restore our faith in the innate goodness of our humanity". "Community pantries are ways to uplift humanity and respect the dignity of all, as sons and daughters of God. We are trying to give flesh to the Word of the gospel through the our community pantries, in this time of pandemic", concludes Bishop David.
Meanwhile, Caritas Philippines is supporting the project by motivating people to help the poor during the pandemic.
In April 2020, Caritas Philippines had already launched "Kindness Stations", which were set up in 15 provinces and promote mutual support in the spirit of solidarity between the communities.
According to estimates by "Pilipinas Kontra Gutom", an institution in which public and private organizations come together, at least four million Filipinos are currently suffering from hunger because they lack food supplies. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 22/4/2021)