The opening and closing of the refrigerator door in our home is something many of us take for granted. We are hungry or thirsty and we make our way to our refrigerator, stocked with food and beverages, but what about those who are hungry and have no food stocked in their home refrigerator? How about the homeless, who not only do not have a home but could not even begin to imagine a trip to a nice cooler refrigerator to get a piece of fruit or a cold glass of milk? The answer to these questions is the new Community Refrigerator, a well-stocked, beautifully decorated refrigerator that contains food items, available free to members of our community in need every Sunday.
The Alief Community Refrigerator is one of seven refrigerators in and around the city of Houston that are providing food for the hungry. The Alief one is located at D Hope Consulting Services, 12131 Beechnut, and operated by Vanessa Lipscomb as part of the non -profit The WOW Project. Lipscomb and her husband, Jabrelle Lipscomb, operate the program only on Sundays from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The refrigerator is stocked with items like produce, cheese, eggs, deli meats, milk, and frozen prepared food items. No raw meat is allowed in the refrigerator. Donated items are accepted, and Vanessa Lipscomb says that a lot of their food items are donated from a partnership with the Trader Joe’s supermarket in Westchase. “We would like to open more but we really need volunteers to assist with the operation and stocking,” adds Lipscomb.
No appointment or application necessary for people to help themselves to what they need. “We just ask that people only take what they need and be mindful of others. It seems to be working. We sanitize items in the refrigerator, so all items are safe for distribution,” she said. “While there are other opportunities for food distribution and collection for the needy, most are perishable, less healthy selections, we strive to provide items that are fresh and healthier.”
Lipscomb is looking to expand the refrigerator project, which just started in July 2020.
“We provide food for about 50 families in a month. We know that there is a bigger need in Alief. We are looking to expand food distribution for the community. We have plans to operate a large food distribution container that will serve even more families.”
The exterior of the Community Refrigerators features artwork by Alief Art House artist Matt Manalo.
With both working full-time jobs and raising a 2-year-old daughter, Jabrelle and Vanessa still find time to serve others with their non-profit. They credit their community service mindset to something they learned while attending Alief Taylor High School. The Taylor HS alums founded The WOW Project (TWP), an organization dedicated to health and wellness education for families with limited health and wellness resources. One part of TWP is the WOW Kids Project, designed to teach and provide guidance in identifying eight dimensions of wellness for students in grades K-6. The program includes classroom work, physical activity, and healthy food selection teachings.
The Community Refrigerator Project is based on a similar effort in New York City and Los Angeles.
To donate or volunteer for the Alief Community Refrigerator, visit The WOW Project website at www.thewowproject.org.
Alief Community Refrigerator, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays
D Hope Consulting Services, 12131 Beechnut, Houston
-By Jessika Leal