Six years ago, Judy’s life looked a lot different than it does today. In April 2013, she was diagnosed with cancer and had to leave her job as a security guard in order to receive treatment. The lack of income meant Judy had to make decisions about whether to pay for her rent, utilities, medications, or food. By June, Judy was in the hospital for malnutrition and dehydration. Her doctors didn’t anticipate she would survive the night, but she proved them wrong.
Once out of the hospital, Judy continued to recover better than her doctors anticipated. During the rest of her treatment, she was outfitted with a feeding tube that her doctors expected she wouldn’t be able to live without in remission. Judy had different plans. After moving into a housing community for seniors that hosts a monthly mobile pantry program from Coastal Bend Food Bank, she started using the food she received there to help her learn how to eat again and gain weight.
“The stuff we get is lifesaving,” Judy says of the food she and over one hundred other residents receive every month. The distribution is a ‘choice pantry,’ which means Judy and her community members pick the food they want. With this model, Judy can determine what food will be best for her and her health. “I still feel like a person and not a charity case.”
Judy enjoys the pantry so much, she volunteers her time too. “I would like to see people that can volunteer to volunteer—they don’t know what a difference they make in little old people’s lives.”