Martha’s Village and Kitchen serves the community during COVID-19

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Photo Courtesy of Martha's Village & Kitchen. Resident child picking up a meal.

Amber Juarez, Staff Reporter

During the COVID-19 outbreak, Martha’s Village and Kitchen in Indio remains open to help those in need.

Martha’s Village and Kitchen is a local organization created 30 years ago to help the community. They offer housing, hot meals, healthcare and education to the public.

When California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the quarantine mandate, Martha’s Village immediately took action.

Martha’s Village and Kitchen’s Director of Philanthropy, Larissa Kerstetter, said “We immediately implemented social distancing guidelines and additional safety and sanitation procedures to our facilities.  More specifically, for our public lunch and our food distribution, we started to do prepacked meals, social distancing tools (markings on the ground to encourage separation), increased staff to manage lines and we have provided personal protective equipment to clients.” 

Before the announcement Martha’s Village allowed people to volunteer at their facility but they have recently suspended all volunteers for the safety of both parties.

“Currently, we have suspended all onsite volunteer activities to reduce the risk of exposure to our clients, volunteers and staff.  We have moved our thrift store employees to other areas, including our kitchen to help support the growing need for services, which in some areas has tripled during over the last month,” said Kerstetter. 

The organization serves hot meals to the public Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

Anyone in need of a meal can pick it up.”Our public lunch is available to anyone in need of a hot meal.  Our public clients include homeless individuals and families but anyone who is at risk and food insecure is welcome at Martha’s.  We serve over 900 seniors a year, who depend on us as part of their fixed incomes.  Due to COVID-19, we have partnered with local housing agencies and are providing meals to people placed in temporary housing in local hotels,” Kerstter said.  

She then explained that residents living at Martha’s Village are able to get three meals throughout the day, “Those living at Martha’s, our residents, are provided  three meals a day, plus two snacks. Meals are based on need, individual situations will be handled accordingly.” 

And for anyone in need of emergency food assistance they can visit Martha’s Village.

“Anyone can come for emergency food assistance from our pantry as well. All of our meals served have nutritional values above the recommended USDA guidelines. We served over 600 individuals at our last USDA food distribution.  People received bags of nonperishable foods, fruit and produce, milk and most importantly protein which was chicken and beef. We are very proud of the quality of food served through our public meal program” said Kerstetter. 

At the moment, Martha’s Village is accepting food and toiletry donations but does ask that it is sanitized before donating, “We are always willing to accept donations.  Right now due to COVID-19, we ask that items be sanitized and that toiletries are new and unopened.  Currently, we have needs for canned proteins, such as tuna, chunky soups, peanut butter, etc.  If it is available, pop-top lids are better for canned items for those who do not have access to a can opener,” said Kerstetter.  

Another way to help out is by donating money, Kerstetter said “If you are able to give a momentary donation, by sending a check in the mail or online through our website, that is extremely helpful as our needs are constantly changing.  You can give the gift of time, we have several at-home volunteer projects on our website.  Sharing our posts and messages through social media is another way to help those in need.  Advocating for those who are struggling is something that anyone can do.  We are stronger with and through the support of our community.” 

As the community continues to move forward and waits for things to go back to normal, more and more people are coming together to support each other.

“We are so grateful for the outpouring of support for others. It means so much to our team and those we serve.  It’s a reminder that we are never alone, we have the strength of community and together we are changing lives,”Kerstetter added. 

For more information on Martha’s Village and Kitchen visit  marthasvillage.org