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MOUNT PLEASANT, Texas — The $1.5 million The Pilgrims Corp. is giving to this town is an acknowledgement of the company's role and responsibility in the community, a spokesperson said Thursday.

"We know our employees are feeling the impact of the global pandemic. We recognize we are the largest employer is many of these area and we feel a responsibility to these communities to help where our employees live and work," said Nikki Richardson, a spokesperson for Pilgrims.

Pilgrim's announced Wednesday its plans to invest $1.5 million in Mount Pleasant to support the community's future and help respond to needs resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

The company is working with city officials to identify where the funds can best be used to meet immediate and longer-term community needs in three key areas: food insecurity, community infrastructure and well-being, and COVID-19 emergency response and relief efforts, Richardson said.

The Hometown Initiative was launched in June and is a nationwide program, he added.

"We are contributing funds everywhere we have a facility," Richardson said. The investments will be done in a phased approach through the end of the year.

Pilgrim's plants anchor dozens of rural communities — operating more than 30 meat poultry and prepared foods facilities and employing 31,000-plus people in the United States.

The Mount Pleasant plant has 148 employees who live in Bowie County and 127 who live in Cass County, according to information from Pilgrim's Corp.

Nationally, Pilgrim's has invested $20 million in the Hometown Strong initiative, which is part of a $50 million nationwide contribution from JBS USA, a major shareholder in Pilgrim's Pride.

Community leaders and residents will help decide exactly where the money goes.

"Folks will know where the dollars are going. We will listen to suggestions because all of the needs are different and put the money toward where we can make the best impact," Richardson said. "We are excited about it, it makes people feel connected,."

(Community members may send proposals to [email protected] For more information, visit hometownstrong.jbssa.com.)

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