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Several Quezon City residents line up to get free food items like rice, noodles, and canned goods at a community pantry put up along Dapitan Street in Quezon City on Saturday (April 24, 2021) / PNA

Quezon City regulates community pantries

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Quezon City has issued a set of guidelines for community pantries that have emerged in various parts of the city to guarantee strict enforcement of minimum health protocols and maintain peace and order.

The guidelines were finalized during a meeting yesterday afternoon attended by various Quezon City government departments and Maginhawa community pantry organizer Ana Patricia Non.

While reiterating the city’s full support for such endeavors that promote the spirit of “bayanihan” to overcome difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Joy Belmonte stressed the need for community pantries to comply with minimum health protocols and ensure sanitation and orderliness in their surroundings.

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In the memorandum, Belmonte strongly urged QCitizens intending to operate a community pantry to submit a written notice to the barangay where the pantry is located, including indicating the person responsible for its operation.

Belmonte however clarified that no Barangay Permit or Clearance will be required for the operation of the community pantry as long as it provides food to the public for free.

Under the memorandum, the pantry organizers and the barangay may coordinate regarding reasonable crowd control measures, such as setting a cut off time for persons in a queue, limiting the number of persons served in a day or for certain time periods such as morning or afternoon and using marshals to enforce health protocols and disperse overcrowding.

Attendants and staff of the community pantry must wear face masks and face shields while they must require patrons to at least wear face masks before they can get free commodities.

A one-meter distance among patrons must be enforced while eating or drinking is prohibited in the vicinity of the community pantry. Patrons must also be prohibited from unnecessarily touching or handling items on display to avoid the spread of the virus.

Pantry operators are also ordered to maintain cleanliness in their immediate vicinity by properly disposing of cartons, plastic bags, ecobags or other containers, food scraps and waste.

“They are also responsible for food safety. Food must be fresh or not expired, and no adulterated, spoiled or unsanitary foods shall be distributed,” Belmonte said in her directive.

With the existing public safety hours, community pantries are also required to operate from 5AM to 8PM only.

Belmonte also encouraged pantry operators to adopt a system to mitigate abuse following reports about certain persons exploiting the community pantry and taking more than their fair share.

“For example, the pantries have the option to impose item limits per person or household, or limit their patrons to bona fide barangay residents,” she pointed out.

The Mayor directed member offices of the City’s Law and Order Cluster, regulatory departments, and the Barangays to strictly enforce her latest issuance.

“Law enforcement shall refrain from intervening except in cases of manifest breach of health or safety protocols,” she stressed.

(You may see the full guidelines here: https://quezoncity.gov.ph/community-pantry-guidelines/ )


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