Community Food Pantry Organizer Patricia Non Receives U.S. Embassy Award

When Patricia Non founded the first community food pantry last year in her Maginhawa neighborhood in Teacher’s Village, Quezon City, it was a small bamboo cart that held a set of preserves, rice, vegetables and other essentials such as face masks and vitamins. Above, a sign read in Filipino: “Give what you can, take what you need”.

No’s initiative has inspired more than 300 community pantries that have since sprung up across the country, battling food insecurity as communities struggle to meet their basic needs amid tight mobility restrictions, job losses and rising prices. People give whatever resources they have – from small amounts by individuals to wholesale donations from groups – for others to benefit.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy presented Non with the Ambassador’s Woman of Courage Award for launching the nation’s first community food pantry.

“Empowered and courageous women can change the world for the better. I presented the Ambassador’s Woman of Courage Award to Ana Patricia Non for her community food pantry initiative that inspired Filipinos to combine their resources and help each other during the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote Heather Variava, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires on Twitter.

No’s initiative highlighted the number of Filipinos who needed a helping hand, as well as the lack of government assistance at a time when the government had imposed quarantine restrictions to curb rising cases. of COVID-19.

While Non received support from the Quezon City government and was praised at home and abroad for the movement she started, not everyone shared the sentiment: Non’s pantry movement had been targeted. of a red-tagging program in which she and other pantry organizers were branded as communist recruiters, forcing them to halt operations until their safety could be assured.

In May last year, the Philippine National Police issued an apology for what it called the “perceived profiling” of Non and other organizers by police personnel.

Norma P. Rex