The community pantry on P. Noval Street is set up in front of the Mang Tootz Food House. (Photo by Jamilah Angco/ The Varsitarian)

If you’re a Thomasian, chances are you’ve heard about or eaten at Mang Tootz, home of the famous “banana rhum-a” on P. Noval Street.

And while UST has been mostly empty during the Covid-19 pandemic, Mang Toots Vergara himself has set up a community pantry to continue satisfying the hunger of people in his food house’s vicinity.

Inspired by the community pantry in Maginhawa Street, Quezon City,  Vergara and his wife started their own installation and are offering free food items like vegetables and food packs donated by residents for families affected by stringent community quarantine protocols.

“Na-inspire lang kami doon sa Maginhawa community pantry talaga. ‘Yun lang talaga ‘yung inspiration naming mag-asawa [at sinubukuan] namin siyang gawin, tapos napansin namin, tumulong ‘yung [pamilya] namin, tumulung ‘yung ibang friends,” Vergara told the Varsitarian

Written on the community pantry stall are simple “rules” about how it works: “Magbigay ayon sa kakayanan; kumuha batay sa pangangailangan.” (Give what you can and take what you need.)

“[Hindi] nito masasagot ang root cause ng kagutuman pero okay na din na pantawid gutom sa mga nangangailangan. Mahirap magtrabaho, mag-aral at lumaban habang kumakalam ang [tiyan],” Vergara said.

Vergara said that aside from his friends and family, other people have also dropped by to give food item donations anonymously, which he said caused a “ripple effect” in the community. 

The P. Noval community pantry is operational from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The first community pantry to have emerged and gone viral amid the Covid-19 pandemic is the one along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City.

Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite are under modified enhanced community quarantine, the second most stringent lockdown label, until end-April.


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