Commodities food program delivers meals, smiles

Every month, Judy Karaba looks forward to getting a big box of food delivered to her at the Lakeview Place Apartments in Houston.

"I think it's wonderful," said Karaba, 81, who is originally from Chicago. "My pantry is always filled."

Karaba is one of 102 residents at Lakeview who are part of the Commodities Supplemental Food Program. Lakeview is managed by Volunteers of America Texas. The commodities program is one of several programs that are offered to help residents live a better quality of life.

As part of the program, residents receive a box filled with various items including pasta, juices, cereal, canned vegetables and fruit, cheese, beans, and milk.

Kathy Lipman is the manager of the Houston Food Bank's Senior Box program which distributes the food to Lakeview and 52 other sites throughout Harris County.

"It's a great benefit for seniors who live on limited income," Lipman said. "The commodities program has around since the 70s. Texas is fortunate to have it, not every state does."

After the food is dropped off, Tonya Wilborn, the service coordinator at Lakeview, personally delivers the boxes to each resident's apartment.

"We have the residents sign a waiver so I can leave the box in their apartments if they're not home," Wilborn says. "We load them up on a dolly 12 at a time and go door to door. After all these years, I know who wants the box on the table or on the chair."

And residents say they appreciate the extra attention to detail.

"She's always sweet and friendly," says Bernice Bennett, 66, who is from San Antonio. "She makes us feel good. I think the program is wonderful too. That's money we don't have to spend. "