Food pantries spread in Philippines as COVID-19 restrictions bite

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Community-run stalls offering free food to the needy have multiplied across the Philippines, with many struggling to feed their families as COVID-19 restrictions bite and government help falls short.

Street sweeper Juliet Reyes regularly picks up fruit and vegetables from a curbside food pantry in the capital Manila, where a recent lockdown to contain a surge in infections threw hundreds of thousands out of work.

“I’m very thankful. It’s a big help for us who are most in need,” said Reyes, 41, who supports a family of eight on her meagre daily wage of 200 pesos (US$4).

“When I go home I will cook what I got today.”

Patricia Non ignited the nationwide movement this month after parking a bamboo cart stocked with rice, pasta, canned food and vegetables raided from her kitchen beside a busy street.

A handwritten cardboard sign urged passers-by to “Give what you can, take what you need”.

Within hours the cart was empty and Non issued a plea on Facebook for donations, which went viral.

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