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Society

Roadside food banks help Thais get by in virus-stricken economy

Culture of charity fuels grassroots spread of 'happiness-sharing pantries'

About 1,400 of the free pantries, like this one in Bangkok, have sprung up across Thailand since early May. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

BANGKOK -- Over the past month, boxes with food and daily necessities have proliferated on streets across Thailand, cropping up near cafes and homes and in front of office buildings.

These tu pan suk, or happiness-sharing pantries, allow people to give or take freely. They offer those with resources to spare an opportunity to aid those who are struggling, helping to meet a need that has only grown amid the economic pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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