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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

36 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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
1

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!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

There are many non-profit organizations that fill the needs of the community. Then, you come across an exceptional non-profit like Martha's Kitchen. Not only do they run their own kitchen to serve hot meals weekly, they have expanded their outreach across the South Bay. We, Alum Rock UMC are one of the lucky site recipient of Martha's Kitchen weekly hot meals, which they delivery to us. Since we have started our Tuesday feeding program in August to December we have fed in the four months 127 adults and 190 young people. This is an average of 91.25 per month during this time. You are doing an outstanding job! Muchas Gracias!!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Marthas Kitchen is truly devoted to help communities in need. I Love Morgan Hill has had the pleasure of partnering with Marthas Kitchen over the past five years to serve hot meals to those in need in the south county community of Morgan Hill. They have the same heart as we do to serve our community. Edita Cruz, the Director of Marthas Kitchen has rallied local organizations in the south county to partner and share information/volunteers, as we all have the same goal for serving our community. Hopefully more organizations/businesses can get involved this year to volunteer or donate so we can make a huge difference to serve those in need. We live in an expensive county and folks need the extra help. Thank you Martha's Kitchen for making a difference . Josie Scott

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This wonderful organization attracts people of great character and dedication and now that I've become a weekly volunteer I am honored to work amongst them. Our guests are a diverse mix of souls who are appreciative of the love that goes into the meals and the care shown to them ... with dignity. I am proud of my commitment to serve and to work with all the great volunteers who come from high schools, colleges and universities and the professional organizations that support community involvement. MC

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Martha's Kitchen has generously provided food to feed the hungry in our community of Morgan Hill. They have been willing to work with our specific needs to provide the most good for hungry people. Our church, Cathedral of Faith in Morgan Hill, discovered a great need among low income families and we have been able to provide clothing and coats, toys at Christmas for children, backpacks and school supplies for students, while providing a great meal, a welcoming environment, for them as well. Martha's Kitchen has partnered with us to bring some joy into the lives of these families. Thank you Martha's Kitchen!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Martha's Kitchen provides all the meals for our weekly Community Suppers and we could never do it without them! Such an invaluable service. Helpful staff and a wonderful spirit about the place-what a blessing!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love volunteering at Martha's Kitchen. This place is close to my heart. Serving the poor and the hungry in the Silicon Valley is one of the great opportunities to serve God. Everyone that comes to eat here is so gracious. I believe that I am here to give the ministry of the "smile" as well. It's good to see the poor looks happy when they come to this place.
The volunteers are so energetic and joyful as if they're looking forward for the next day to volunteer. Being a part of this charitable environment is so encouraging and at the end of the day, I felt that I made a difference in the world. Likewise, the people who run this place are professional, friendly, supportive and kind.

I pray to God that Martha's Kitchen will be blessed abundantly as they continue to serve the poor and the hungry with dignity and love.