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Grocery store owners being challenged by youth to open their own community pantries


A youth organization has challenged grocery store owners to open their own versions of community pantries to feed residents whose employment and livelihoods have been impacted by the COVID-19 surge's tight lockdowns.


Members of the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark) staged a visual demonstration by marching to many grocery stores and taking pictures of themselves while holding placards asking why wealthy and millionaire mall owners are unable to replicate what average people have done.


“It is only logical to ask, if it’s possible for ordinary people to reach out, then why can’t billionaires do it as well? With all the riches they have accumulated throughout their decades of operations and unfair labor practices, opening their stores and bodegas is the least they can do,” Spark spokesperson John Lazaro said.


Even after the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the profits of neighborhood pantry donors cannot be contrasted to the large riches of mall and supermarket operators.


As organizers set up temporary stalls where residents who were left with little or no money after the lockdowns would get their food for the day, the neighborhood pantry has become a hot subject.


While it was praised as a positive move, others questioned whether it was necessary to monitor the pantries because they could be hazardous to public health, particularly if some people fail to follow precautions such as physical separation and wearing face masks, which could lead to COVID-19 transmissions.


Following the overcrowding at actress Angel Locsin's community pantry, several government agencies discussed the feasibility of overseeing pantries and requiring organizers to report their operations to city municipalities.


Due to an increase in COVID-19 incidents, Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal were put under an enhanced neighborhood quarantine (ECQ). The tight lockdowns resulted in a significant drop in some sectors' earnings, and some sectors claim that the government's P1,000 per eligible family member is insufficient to meet basic needs for even a week.


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