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HOPE Nacogdoches: Serving the Community for 30 Years

HOPE Nacogdoches began in 1995, and it opened its doors once a month for Nacogdoches County citizens.

HOPE Nacogdoches began in 1995, and it opened its doors once a month for Nacogdoches County citizens. Clients were able to take home free meals for their families as they needed. Over 30 years, HOPE has grown, and today it is able to help feed clients once a week.

Deidre Harrison is a volunteer at HOPE and also the President of the board of directors. She says that as the pantry grows, it tries to find new ways to help families in need, such as hosting ‘Senior Box’ days, or opening a resource center providing legal help, applications for food stamps, and nutrition presentations.

Deidre: I mean, like, we’re trying to touch everybody that needs our help. It’s a win-win to me for everybody. We’re always trying to find better ways to help folks, better ways to help the pantry run well. I’m very proud of our folks, and our volunteers, and our building and the way we do things. To me, these are our people, too. These are the people who need help. And that's what we're doing right now. We're helping people who need our help. And some may need a little bit more. I hope we go for at least another 30 years, don't know that I'll be here for another 30 years. But really, it's just a good place to be. It's just a good place to be.

The food pantry is run solely by volunteers, and Deidre says the volunteers are non-judgmental and caring of clients.

Deidre: The folks that come in first, you know, it’s ‘Good morning! How are you?’ and, you know, a lot of them we know by name. They’ll come in and as they go to each station, you know, the meat, the canned goods, the cereal, the volunteers there will speak with them again and try to build relationships with these folks When they leave, almost everybody is like, ‘Thank you so much, I don’t know what I would do.’ Or, you know, we see them out in the community and they come up and hug us. I mean, they feel valued and that reinforces our volunteers, our volunteers reinforce them. It’s a very symbiotic relationship between the volunteers. 

In 2022, 23.5% of children in Nacogdoches Country, TX were living under the poverty line, and in 2024 The average household income in Nacogdoches is $60,000, with a poverty rate of 30.89%. Deidre says helping these families is HOPE’s main mission.

Deidre: Our main thing that we do is we give food to people that are food insecure. We’re always looking to see who else we can help or who else we can reach out to. If you’ve been to the grocery store, you know how expensive it is. It costs us about $5.18 a week per family to, you know, to buy the groceries. And when we get grants and when we get donations, all that money goes to buying food. We’ve got to help these folks, and that’s what we do. You know, we like to say ‘HOPE gives hope to our neighbors.’