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South Bay Soup Kitchen Continues To Grow

By Garvin Thomas
|  Friday, Aug 23, 2013  |  Updated 12:44 PM PDT
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Martha's Kitchen is handing out a million meals every four years. They think they can do even more.

Martha's Kitchen is handing out a million meals every four years. They think they can do even more.

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Sometimes a setback in life is nothing more than a setup for what's next.

Edita Cruz has learned that through personal experience.  “I thought [it] was a devastating event in my life, when I was laid off. It was actually a blessing.”

After a career in high-tech with firms like IBM, Apple, and HP, Cruz faced what many others did during the tech downtown in the early part of last decade: the loss of her job.

When a friend at her church told her about a job opportunity at Martha's Kitchen, a San Jose soup kitchen, she was interested for two reasons. One, she always wanted to work in the non-profit field. Two, she needed the work.

Cruz says she has never regretted taking the position as Executive Director of Martha's Kitchen. "It is a gift," Cruz says. "I have never looked back. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”

The board of directors at Martha's Kitchen has likely never looked back as well.

In the dozen years since she took over, Cruz has boosted the output of the kitchen ten-fold. When she arrived they were making 20,000 meals a year. Now, that number tops 250,000.

Martha's Kitchen is based out of San Jose's Sacred Hearth Church and twice a week they serve dinner to some 300 hungry and homeless in the church's hall. That is, however, just a portion of who they serve. Under Cruz's leadership, Martha's Kitchen has partnered with 25 other organizations to provide meals for those in need all over the South Bay. Martha's Kitchen even makes weekly deliveries as far away as Merced.

Cruz says her greatest skill has been introducing corporate-style efficiency to the volunteer-heavy organization. She says as far as they have come, they can still do more. Cruz says she and her crew are coming up with a plan to boost production by 100,000 meals in the next two years.

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