While the community pantries were created for a good purpose – helping those in need — it soon became a scary sight of people gathering and lining-up. Photos of community pantries across the country showed lines where no one was observing social distancing.
However, we also cannot put these people at fault for lining up at the community pantries. Some of them may not have a job to put food on the table of their families while others may not have eaten something good for a while. Some of those who are lining up just needed something to eat.
But we cannot discount the possibility of these community pantries becoming super spreaders of the Sars-CoV-2.
Hence, it is important for community pantry organizers to employ necessary health protocols to protect themselves, their volunteers, and the people visiting them. The last thing we want to happen is for these community pantries to become another hot bed for Covid-19 infection.
One of the strategies the local authorities are looking at now is intensifying coordination between organizers and the local government unit. This is to ensure that law enforcers will be deployed in the area to implement strictly minimum health protocols.
Government officials said earlier that no special permit will be needed to organize a community pantry. However, with the gathering of people, some mayors said they are studying a need for organizers to secure permits.
Organizers could also make the scanning of QR codes mandatory to ensure that if worse comes to worse, those who need to be traced will be traced and tested.
May we also remind those going to the community pantries to strictly follow minimum health protocols — wearing face masks and face shields and observing social distancing.
The community pantries are organized for the good cause of helping others. But if it is endangering people due to lines being crowded and health protocols not being observed, it may do more harm than good. We hope the community pantry organizers in the city will be able to devise a strategy that will make going to the community pantry and limit the number of people gathering.