H.O.P.E’s community soup kitchen Jo’s Diner to return by fall

H.O.P.E’s community kitchen Jo’s Diner to return by fall
Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 5:59 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2022 at 10:51 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - In addition to the revival of the soup kitchen Jo’s Diner by September, Dr. Sharon Ninness says there will be various upgrades to the newly acquired space adjacent to Nacogdoches HOPE .

“There will be offices for the interns, from social work and the nutrition program, and also for the clinic,” said Ninness. “Cooking Matters classes will also be held here.”

Helping Other People Eat, or HOPE, was created in 1994 and serves the poorest census tract in East Texas according to 2020 US census data. 1 in 5 in Nacogdoches County live in poverty. The food pantry serves more than 2,400 clients per month. Diedra Harrison says that requires a lot of food to be available to the pantry.

“We just have so many people coming right now,” said Harrison. “And we are not able to keep up with the food to get enough food to feed everybody. That’s our main goal: we want to keep everybody fed.”

In fall 2020, Nacogdoches HOPE was awarded a large grant by the East Texas Food Bank to fund phase 1 of the pantry expansion project. Phase 2 is now underway—it has involved the purchase of kitchen, technology, office equipment, and supplies for the new resources center. It had been made possible by two more grants and the work of retired contractor Milton Moore. Ninness says the resources will add to the dedication of the staff and volunteers.

“We have been open 15 times a month even during the pandemic,” said Ninness. “When the diner is open we are open, 18 times a month, and we are very proud of that. We had volunteers risk their lives literally before there was a vaccine to come up here and serve the poor.”

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