Harvest Hope Food Bank CEO Denise Holland Announces Her Departure

July 19, 2018

Denise Holland is stepping down following two decades of innovative, heartfelt service to South Carolina’s hungry. Harvest Hope COO Keith Ferrell will serve as interim CEO in advance of a national search for a permanent replacement.

“Denise has given her heart and soul to Harvest Hope, and we couldn’t be more thankful,” said Davis Bourne, chairman of the Harvest Hope Board. “Under her guidance, we’ve grown both in size and service ability; we’ve served more than 360 million meals in her 20 years and we can now reach 20 counties in South Carolina. Without Denise, Harvest Hope simply would not be what it is today.”

“I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to see Harvest Hope grow and reach more of our neighbors who are experiencing hunger,” said Holland. “It’s been one of the greatest experiences of my life, but it’s time for me to pass the torch. I’m looking forward to the next challenge, and watching Harvest Hope continue to carry this mission forward.”

Holland joined Harvest Hope in the fall of 1998, after spending 16 years at the American Red Cross. That previous experience would be brought to bear in Beaumont, Texas in 2005, where she coordinated feeding efforts of multiple agencies on behalf of Feeding America. “It was right after Hurricane Rita and not long after Katrina,” Holland said. “It was highly stressful, but one of the most memorable, exciting and rewarding experiences God gave me to be a part of.” It would prepare Holland for a greater challenge – responding to the 1,000-year flood and Hurricane Matthew, where during both disasters Harvest Hope distributed food equal to over 2.5 million meals.  

Along with preparing Harvest Hope to be a critical responder during disasters, Holland is most proud of the development of targeted feeding programs. “Hunger does not discriminate. It can hit any one of us at any time,” Holland said. “Children in our state are especially vulnerable.” Using a model she witnessed firsthand in Georgia, Holland launched Kids Café and Backpack Programs in the Midlands. Both target food disparities among children who often spend afternoons, nights and weekends without a warm meal. “It has been pure joy to see local churches pack the backpacks and deliver them to local schools,” Holland said. “Hundreds of hungry children have been fed and the local relationships between churches and families have increased.”

Other milestones include the opening of a new food pantry in Greenville and a huge jump in the number of partner agencies Harvest Hope works with on a daily basis. When Holland began, there were 75 – today, there are more than 500.

“I have many memories of working with all of the wonderful Board members, volunteers and staff members to help service delivery,” Holland said. “Regardless of who or where, we all worked together to get the grocery carts and pallets filled and out the door. It has been a job of heart and I thank the Lord for giving me this awesome 20 years. The Board of Directors, staff and volunteers continue to be strong, courageous and they all have hearts of service delivery to hungry people. They will make sure Harvest Hope Food Bank continues the many services and more going forward. It is a great time to look to the future with a new CEO.”

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