Thais Feed Hungry Neighbors in Pandemic with ‘Sharing Pantries’

Jureerat Dechhan donates noodles May 11, 2020 in Korat.

NAKHON RATCHASIMA — Jamnong Paewsoongnern, 65, was laid off from his security guard job at a hotel after the coronavirus pandemic broke out. Out of work, he rides his motorcycle around town all day to look for food donations. 

But with the introduction of donation food pantries, he now has a more stable source of food.

Too pun sook, or “Sharing pantries,” have been mushrooming across Thailand over the weekend in a show of Thais helping to feed less fortunate neighbors. The method has been praised  Jamnong picked up his donations Monday from the pantry on Pho Klang road in Korat city.

“I had to bike around and look for donation spots where people are giving out food. But I’m slower than a lot of young’uns, and things run out by the time I get there,” Jamnong said. “These pantries are great. Old people, garbage pickers, and the poor can come get things here without squeezing into queues.” 


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Jamnong Paewsoongnern picks up food donations from the sharing pantry on Pho Klang Road on May 11, 2020 in Korat.

Jamnong took some noodles, eggs, and rice Monday. He says he has no income save for his monthly 600 baht pension. 

The movement comes after a woman in Bangkok was charged for handing out donations without observing social distancing measures. Police had even summoned and reprimanded a group of foreigners on Koh Samui for handing out donations without physical spacing.

Facebook user Supakit Bank Kulchartvijit, wrote in a viral post Thursday that he had set up four pantries in Bangkok and one in Rayong, supposedly the first pantries in Thailand. 

“We got the idea from the farang Free Pantry idea,” Supakit wrote. “At first a lot of people said all the food would be taken away, people would hoard the food, or the donations even stolen for reselling. This proves that Thai people still have a heart.”

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Donors pose for photos May 10, 2020, with the sharing pantry in Lampang city.

Pantries are usually filled with dry food such as rice, instant noodles, bread, canned fish, and cooking oil, but also fresh food such as eggs and even chicken.

Some even include notepads for people to write messages of thanks and encouragement to each other. 

“I think it’s a great idea, because usually people who want to donate don’t know where to drop off donations,” Jureerat Dechhan, 53, who donated packs of noodles Monday in Korat said. “As far as I noticed, people are only taking what they need from the pantries as well, following their conscience.” 

In Lampang, the Free Pantry of Lampang group founded by music teachers from Thida Music school set up the provinces’ first sharing pantry on Sunday.

Looking for the donations close to where you live? Free Pantry of Lampang Facebook page also created a map compiling sharing pantries nationwide. 

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