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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Martha's Kitchen

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Congregate Meals, Food, Homeless & Housing, Homeless Centers, Human Services, Soup Kitchens

Mission: In the 1960s Louise Benson, the "Mother Teresa of San Jose," served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the hungry from her garage. She saw the need grow and in 1981 she and five good friends started a soup and sandwich mission at its present facility on the grounds of Sacred heart Church in San Jose, California. Since then thousands of volunteers from schools and churches of all denominations, along with individual donors, have supported Louise Benson's concept of feeding the hungry in our community on a no questions asked basis and in an atmosphere of loving concern. Martha's Kitchen networks with other helping agencies by sharing surplus produce and baked goods collected by volunteers. In addition to feeding hungry folks at the kitchen, 2500 meals a week are sent to the hungry at shelters, drop-in centers, school, and other agencies in Santa Clara County.

Target demographics: feed the hungry with dignity.

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 50,000 people

Geographic areas served: Santa Clara County

Programs: Martha's Kitchen believes in focusing in one basic area of need in order to be very good at it. One can say that Food is our business, our only business. We serve meals to the homeless and low-income population at no cost to them. Second Harvest Food Bank uses us a model of what a well-managed and well-run facility is like. We leverage community resources, so we provide help to other agencies while also benefiting from the generosity of the community. We work with several organizations and groups to achieve our mission of feeding the hungry. We prepare meals for emergency shelters, youth drop-in centers, downtown homeless services, individuals who are inflicted with HIV/AIDS, and agencies serving low income families and workers. We also sort donated groceries and dry goods and share these with other community based organizations who have brown bag or feeding programs. Martha?s Kitchen regularly participates in the Washington Area Coalition (our community association in a low-income geographical area of the city of San Jose) which works with local government, schools and community organizations to help improve the lives of the members of the community, fight gang violence and crime, prioritize neighborhood improvement projects, organize youth projects, etc. As a result of collaboration, we have doubled the meals we prepare in the last 5 years without adding staff. In the next twelve months, we expect to prepare more than 120,000 meals.

Community Stories

42 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We just want to thank Edita Cruz and all of her wonderful staff at Martha’s Kitchen for the great work they do in preparing and providing us (and our fellow volunteer helpers) much needed casseroles to feed the many less fortunate living in the Santa Cruz area. Your always willing and timely supportive efforts have made a big difference in feeding the hungry in this region. Knowing that we can count on Martha’s Kitchen’s willing support in providing an assortment of delicious casseroles has truly been a blessing. We are particularly appreciative of your providing casseroles the past five years to feed up to a hundred people every Monday afternoon at a downtown faith-based event. Also of particular appreciative mention, is the many hundreds of Martha’s Kitchen casseroles you provided the past two winter seasons to support the Association of Faith Community (AFC) sponsored Winter Shelter Program which fed hundreds of local homeless receiving shelter during the cold, rainy winter months. The AFC could not have been able to support this much needed program (that over thirty Santa Cruz area churches of different faiths participated in) without Martha’s Kitchen help. Again, thank you Edita, Kevin, Jose and crew for the wonderful work you do in feeding those in need. Tim and Judy Hutchison (Holy Cross Catholic Church Representative on Santa Cruz Association of Faith Community Board of Directors)

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I work for another local non-profit called Hunger at Home and we work in collaboration with Martha's Kitchen often. I have only been in my position for a few months, but our partnership with them dates back a few years. I know I can always count on Edita's team to pick up a donation and for anything we may need whether it be volunteers for events, help promoting events, or fundraising ideas. We have also thrown successful fundraisers in conjunction with them, and our mission is always the same: work to end hunger and homelessness in the Bay Area. The team at Martha's Kitchen is dedicated to their work in the community and they positively impact the lives of those in need every day. They truly do God's work by advocating for those who are otherwise invisible!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I've known about Martha's Kitchen for over a decade. For those who want to learn how Edita Cruz impacts this organization and her community, watch the attached YouTube video from KPIX-5 news. https://youtu.be/6E74U9GeY3Y

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This group truly has a big heart! Their mission in my mind is simple; Let's feed people! And the fact they do this day-in, day-out is wonderful! For some it's breakfast, others lunch and dinner - regardless of the meal they are there to provide hot meals to the thousands of people who don't otherwise have the means.

And... they can serve more!

To all the staff at Martha's Kitchen - keep up the great work that you do!

Donor

Rating: 5

We have been donors for years and are always happy to help Martha's Kitchen. They have an army of dedicated, long-time volunteers who are eager to help the community. Martha's Kitchen runs a lean operation with few staff members, so you know every dollar and resource is stretched to provide the greatest value to the less fortunate.

jenacruz

Donor

Rating: 5

Lean non-profit that focuses on their mission of feeding people with dignity. I have no qualms about where my donations are going. The impact is immediately visible.

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Donor

Rating: 5

Good food, open to everyone, no questions asked. Clean kitchen and dining area.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Former Volunteer now living in Florida:
I have been a volunteer at Martha's Kitchen for over 20 years. During that time, millions of people in need have received exceptional services from a group of exceptional individuals. Everyone is made to feel welcome and appreciated with no discrimination – the staff, the volunteers and the clients feel the warmth and caring nature of the organization.
Whether it is sitting with a group of volunteers preparing food to be used to feed the hungry, preparing Christmas “ Goodie bags" for men, women and children in need, helping with operational clerical tasks or helping to organize and implement fund raising events, I have enjoyed volunteering at Martha’s Kitchen.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I continue to be amazed at how much good is done by Martha's Kitchen's staff- about 8 to 9 people total and they provide 300,000+ meals per year. In addition, the volunteers are able to interact with on-location clients and make their day brighter. Truly a positive and wonderful organization!!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Martha's Kitchen provides a great service to families and Senior Citizens. Children and families know that they can get a balanced meal on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The dinners are excellent and the children talk about what they eat, and the extra sandwich that is taken home. The students in the neighborhood look forward to turkey meals in November, Spaghetti, chicken, and Shepherd's pie. These are their favorites. Dinner is a hot meal. Meals at school are not made on site but brought in a Cafeteria truck. So fresh homemade food is a great choice. Families, Senior Citizens, and unemployed parents, and individuals receive great services from Martha's Kitchen.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering at Martha's Kitchen has honestly changed my life. From working with amazing people to getting the utmost satisfaction of changing the outcome of someone's day, it has been an honor to be part of such an amazing organization. Martha's Kitchen is not solely based off the duty of serving food, but also to bring a smile to someone's face. Anyone who has the privilege of spending an afternoon volunteering here would be truly gratified.

I started coming here during my sophomore year of high school and have continued to visit when I am home from school. Every single week that I would show up, whether I was having a good or bad day, I would go home with a positive attitude. Seeing how thankful that people are when they come in, or knowing their story of why they are in the position they are in is inspiring. They are the faces that are imprinted in my mind when I complain about trivial problems or wishing that I was better off. I am truly thankful for the gift of gratefulness and humility that Martha's Kitchen has given me and I highly recommend that anyone who comes across this place to try to help out.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was introduced to Martha's Kitchen by a lady at Holy Family Parish. I started soon after I retired in 1997, as a volunteer. To this day I go to the kitchen on Wednesdays, and when ever they need me. They serve many clients, and all seem to be happy with the meals and service that the staff provides. The Chefs prepare many meals, not just for the kitchen, but for many other places as far away as Dos Palos, CA. I'm happy to be a part of this wonderful nonprofit!
All are welcome!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Martha's Kitchen provided a critical need to the low income and homeless in Santa Clara County and beyond. It is amazing to see the hungry people come into the Kitchen every Tuesday and Wednesday and go home happy after being feed a delicious meal. You really see God's work in the service That Martha's provided.

Previous Stories
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Volunteer

Rating: 5

Martha's Kitchen serves the needs of the poor and homeless of Silicon Valley. We serve a quality meal every time to hundreds of hungry people. It is a great place to see your donations and efforts put to work right in front of you.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began volunteering in the food line at Martha's Kitchen back in 2006 until around 2007, or so. At that time I was filling the void left by my father after he passed away. He had been volunteering there with a small group of retired doctors from San Jose looking for opportunities to contribute in a meaningful manner as well as to socialize.

It has been about three years since returning to MK, and since then, it feels great to have returned and see familiar faces. The employees, board members (many of whom also volunteer) steady volunteers and school age volunteers all make this a worthwhile and fun place to help and hang out. Everyone gets busy with the many tasks of delivering food twice weekly to the needy. It is fun, lively and at times loud. The clients are treated to deliciously prepared food and often say "thank you" as they bus their trays.

It is no small feat to feed an average of 150 or so clients twice per week. I am happy to contribute my small portion of the work in getting the job done. Martha's Kitchen offers a bit of "home" for everyone.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What an opportunity to sing praises of Martha's Kitchen! Unbelievable service to those most in need. My wife and I were fortunate enough to give six years of service several days a week offering not only fine meals but respect, dignity and encouragement to those clients who needed it. In addition it was a humbling experience for some of us who have more to share. The clients were VERY appreciative, the volunteers were terrific, the staff was/is first rate. Our community should be thankful that organizations like Martha's Kitchen exist particularly in these troubling times. B&J

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It was a great experience, fulfilling.
Thank you to all the permanent people that run this nonprofit. Collaborating with them to serve the ones in need is always rewarding.
Seen the smile in their faces made my day. I saw a couple of families with children and I was grateful for Martha's Kitchen and the opportunity to show them that there are still people that cares. Living in Silicon Valley have been a challenge for many.
Looking forward to volunteer again.
My best to all.

Ed__49

Volunteer

Rating: 5

These people are like they have been sent here from Heaven. Their work is incredible because it is backed with compassion and pure love. Feeding hungry people is God's work and Martha's Kitchen is God's servant.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered for Martha's Kitchen for 15 years. This soup kitchen continues to maintain its mission of producing wholesome meals for the hungry poor population with an ever expanding service to needy communities. This action is all done with a small paid staff supported by hundreds of volunteers.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

big, BIG - BIG HEARTS! Edita and crew - amazing people who love to live to make sure people are fed!

If you are not familiar with Martha's Kitchen - what a wonderful organization. My understanding is their primary purpose to help feed those whom are hungry. period. It's not just about homeless individuals, but all other factions of life who may feel the pinch and sacrifice food when times are tough.

And what drew me to MK - the fact that if they had more locations , more facilities, more partners whom could help disseminate food... they have the means to accommodate them. I've been lending a hand the last few months trying to find more locations. There's no charge to be a partner, little by ways of what a partner may need and best yet - they will deliver the food to you. Lunch, Dinner and even Breakfast (although partners need to pick up Breakfast). Have 20 or 200 people - call Edita at Martha Kitchen.

Again.
big, BIG - BIG HEARTS! Edita and crew - amazing people who love to live to make sure people are fed!

Paul W.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for several years at Martha's Kitchen and I find it a very rewarding experience. They help so many in need of a hot meal. It is very touching to be able to see the people that you helping! I will continue to support them!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What an amazing place! Martha's Kitchen serves such an important need within the community. People are hungry. By running a soup kitchen, they help feed those in need in the local community several nights a week. In addition, they use their organization's volunteers to help feed others outside of downtown SJ. A volunteer effort in the morning allows meals to be made for community groups throughout the county.

I volunteered twice in the last two weeks. One morning shift showed a huge operation of volunteers prepping food for that night's dinner, including fresh fruit and potatoes, plus a massive sandwich-making operation that allowed thousands of sandwiches to be made for distribution to many smaller community groups. At night, a lovely hot meal was prepared for clients and served by volunteers.

Edita Cruz was a constant presence. Thanking the volunteers personally and making sure everyone felt appreciated. Kevin organized the volunteers and coordinated all the activities to make sure things were getting done. Both always had smiles on their faces. Experienced volunteers showed the newbies how things were done.

Overall, both volunteer experiences were wonderful. Martha's Kitchen is a terrific organization doing great things in the community!