The San Jose location responded generously when Martha’s Kitchen, one of its local charities, asked for assistance to address a radical food shortage resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Tuesday morning, member contributions exceeding $40,000 were delivered to Executive Director Bill Lee for emergency funding to purchase food.

The two major food sources for Martha’s Kitchen came to a virtual stop when Shelter in Place was announced. Regular food bank supplies decreased by more than 80%, and donations of prepared food from corporate cafeterias reduced significantly as employees transitioned to work from home.

Simultaneously, demand for food and meals increased 50-70% or more. One community partner in Hollister, CA shifted from providing 80 meals per week from a single location to distributing 1000 meals per week because they added mobile distribution in the homeless encampments.

Because of the donated food reduction, Martha’s Kitchen needs to purchase food. Bill Lee confirmed donations from the Order of Malta are a funding stop-gap to counteract the current shortage.

Martha’s Kitchen provides hot meals free of charge at more than 60 partner locations in six counties (San Mateo to San Benito).

Partnerships include homeless and respite centers, at-risk teen shelters and centers for seniors, veterans, low income families and the working poor.

Since its founding, Martha’s Kitchen has provided 5 million hot meals free of charge. 95% of every dollar donated to Martha’s Kitchen goes directly to providing meals for those in need. Bill confirmed assistance from the Order of Malta will allow Martha’s Kitchen to step up and meet this increased need during COVID-19.

By Kathryn Sager, D.M.