Food-related online community flourishes during lockdown

MANILA – There is a saying that food connects people, and this is being greatly experienced now with Facebook groups registering exponential growth in membership during the lockdowns. Chariza Salgado, a public relations practitioner and one of the administrators of Let’s Cook Pare?, a Facebook group, said they have around 10,000 members before the government declared the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in middle of March, but the numbers rose to over 60,000 after the end of the lockdown in end of April for Luzon and end of May for the National Capital Region (NCR).

To date, the group’s membership is almost 90,000, she said. “At the time of the ECQ, our membership soared as people confined in their homes tried to cope up with the new normal, most of whom are looking for an outlet that allows them to continue interacting with others outside of their homes,” she said.

Salgado said people also “take advantage of a platform that let them flex their ‘creations’ and enjoy their dreams of living a ‘chef-life’.”

The group was formed in August 2018 by food enthusiasts and businessmen-friends Jeff Chua and Archie Chua to provide a venue where people can share photos of their home-cooked meals and recipes, either “passed on from generations or inspired by others.”

They were later joined in by Jeff’s brother, Vince, who is also a businessman; Chariza Salgado; and Bobet Arandia, an executive of an insurance company.

Salgado said they believe that LCP is attractive to Facebook users because “we believe in sharing of knowledge and information.” “We promote positivity and positive reinforcement.

For the LCP family, sharing is caring/giving. That’s why, everyone in our community works hard together,” she said.

Salgado said the group also serves as a venue for small business owners and over 25 big companies to promote their brands during the lockdown “by allowing the community to be an accessible online platform where they were able to sell food and other relevant kitchen/home cooking appliances, items, etc.”

“A number of members here and abroad likewise shared that recipes they got from the community inspired them to start their own food selling business that allow them to have an alternative source of income,” she added.

The group allows business owners to offer their products on Fridays. Salgado said an average of 200 sellers normally join in. “It’s more than double during the ECQ,” she said.

The group, however, recently suspended what it dubbed the “Market Friday” option due to sellers’ violation on the schedule. Salgado said corporate brands that joined the group provided prizes for the group’s contests “that helped sustain a continuing active engagement in our community.”

“In return, we provide our sponsors an opportunity to promote and sell their products with discounted prices,” she added. During the group’s second year anniversary, two of the group’s members won in the grand raffle wherein they received more than PHP50,000 worth of prizes.

Salgado said LCP administrators are optimistic the group will remain attractive to Facebook users even after the pandemic through “having brands and companies who trust our community by supporting us in various levels; having very active, engaging and responsive administrators who work so hard; and cooperative members.”

These factors are seen to “sustain our community’s active online presence, aside from Filipinos’ innate interest in food,” she added. (PNA)

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