Pilgrim’s Pride will contribute some $735,000 to projects in Nacogdoches as part of a multi-million investment in the communities in which it and partner company JBS USA operates.

The company has been working with local community leaders, but wants the general public to weigh in on how that money can best be allocated to serve the area as part of it’s Hometown Strong initiative.

Pilgrim’s Pride and JBS launched the Hometown Strong campaign in August to pump some $50 million into communities around the nation where the companies operate in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Texas alone will received $6.5 million of that money.

Projects submitted for the program must fall under any of the three central pillars it was founded on: alleviating food insecurity, building up community infrastructure, or response to and relief from the pandemic.

“It was developed as a way to provide meaningful support to the communities where we operate,” said Pilgrim’s Pride communications director Nikki Richardson. “We also wanted it to be very customized to what each community needs.”

The Pilgrim’s Pride plant in Nacogdoches employees 1,500 people, and it relies on a network of 280 farmers scattered through East Texas, said Nikki Richardson, the company’s director of communications.

In the past five years, the local facility has invested $51 million in capital improvements in Nacogdoches, according to a statement about the Hometown Strong initiative.

Richardson said the size of the Nacogdoches operation was taken into account when determining how much of the program’s funding would be allocated here.

Three of the cities in which the companies operate in Texas have yet to have determined amounts, according to the initiative’s website. Cactus, Texas, about 60 miles north of Amarillo in the Panhandle, has been allocated $3.3 million while Mt. Pleasant will get a $1.5 million investment. Waco will see some $260,000. The amount of money going to Dalhart, Lufkin and Pittsburg has yet to be decided.

How much money is going where and for what projects is expected to be decided by the end of the year, Richardson said.

So far, the funds have been allocated for a wide variety of projects, like building an aquatic center in Cactus, renovating a pregnancy resource center in Dumas, and a $1.4 million community rec center in Mount Pleasant. Projects outside of Texas include a children’s library in Plainwell, Michigan, and technology upgrades and computers in Marshville, North Carolina.

Richardson said while a number of projects have been discussed in Nacogdoches, nothing has been decided, and the company wants the community to bring them more ways to spend that $735,000.

“We want to give general members of the community a chance to share their feedback,” she said.

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