‘Pantry of Sharing’: community pantries help Thais in need during COVID-19
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is proud to report that Thais are stepping up to help those who are out of work and struggling to put food on the table during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, starting community pantries in Bangkok and in other locations around the country.
A group of volunteers recently launched a ‘Pantry of Sharing’ initiative, where they share non-perishable food items and basic hygiene supplies, including feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, and toilet paper, to others who are in need during the outbreak. The concept is based on a simple idea that those who can afford to give do so while those in need are encouraged to stop by and take what they need.
The project is the brainchild of Mr. Supakit Kulchartvijit, who said he launched five locations (four in Bangkok and one in Rayong) hoping to inspire others after he too was motivated from seeing similar projects in other countries.
“When I first shared this idea with others, they were worried that people would take everything available, or even steal the pantry. However, after two weeks, these worries have been put to rest. This proves that Thais are generous with each other,” Mr Supakit said.
Since he started others have also appeared. A roadside cupboard in Khon Kaen was set up recently by Ms. Kulwadee Theswong, who also bought items to fill it up. Ms. Kulwadee said she bought the cupboard from a furniture shop in the municipality after the owner gave her a discount off the price tag of 2,200 Baht when she told him what it was for.
Nakhon Ratchasima has at least one pantry in the Mittaphap community in Mueang district. It was initiated by community leader Mr. Anuwat Ploedjanthuek after he saw people in the area who had lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19.
Community pantries have also appeared in Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat. Meanwhile, social media users have posted pictures of other roadside pantries in Saraburi, Roi Et and Chiang Mai. It is not yet clear how many people have been helped.
Upon learning about the ‘Pantry of Sharing’, Dr. Taweesilp Visanuyothin, Spokesperson of the Centre for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), praised the projects, saying it reflects the kindness, generosity, and hospitality of Thais in general.
“It touches my heart when I hear people helping each other out during a difficult time. And I am happy to hear that this idea is now spreading across the country,” Dr. Taweesilp said.
One retired teacher who helped stock the pantry with boxes of soy milk, eggs, and a bottle of cooking oil, said although she did not have much to give, she wanted to help people who are less fortunate.
“I live alone and do not eat much, so I can share what my children brought with other people. It’s good karma,” she said.
For those who have lost their income during these difficult times, the ‘Pantry of Sharing’ concept has proved to be a lifesaver. Mr. Toy Luanhok, a motorcycle taxi driver who stopped for instant noodles, canned fish, bottled water, and milk from a pantry, said what he took from the pantry could help him survive for at least two days.
“The number of passengers has fallen dramatically since the outbreak started. I have less money now, so this helps me a lot,” Mr. Toy said. “When I have more money, I’ll give back to people who are in need.”
Thailand’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration
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