Monday, November 30, 2009

Video: Obamas Distributes Thanksgiving Items

President Obama and family distribute Thanksgiving items to the children and families in Martha's Table's programs.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Obama's Thanksgiving Visit to Martha's Table

This Wednesday, the parents of the children in our programs were pleasantly surprised when the First Family handed them the ingredients to make a Thanksgiving feast. The First Family and 40 of their closest family members volunteered at Martha's Table. They helped pass out turkeys and pies, create Thanksgiving art work with our after-school program and read to the children in the daycare.

Thank you to all the staff members that worked so hard to make this special experience for the first family and their family.

Martha's Table wishes everyone a wonderful holiday with family and friends.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Martha's Table in the News!

The Washington Post featured Martha's Table in their discussion about how charities are affected by and coping with the consequences of the economic downturn.
"A year after the global economy teetered on the verge of collapse, a recession -- a lingering and unwelcome guest -- has settled in at dinner tables across the land.

And while plates are empty at some homes, the lines grow long at organizations like Martha's Table, a nonprofit in the District where a record number of people wait each day for a bit of something -- food or clothing or educational programs -- to see them through.

"It can be a swelling river with all the different tributaries feeding into it," said Lindsey Buss, president and chief executive of Martha's Table. "And the rain isn't stopping."

Please see the article here and be sure to check out the online photo gallery, Martha's Table: Rising to the challenges presented by the recession.

The WAMU also gives credit to Martha's Table in their discussion of non-profit organizations in difficult economic times. Please check out this article!

Martha's Table Gives Thanks

Yesterday was Martha's Table's community dinner for Thanksgiving. Normally, we serve our food through our mobile soup kitchen, McKenna's Wagon, which brings sandwiches, soup, and desserts to three stops in Washington, DC. Yesterday was a little different. We transformed our playground and food prep areas into large dining spaces, hosting a sit-down community dinner.

Our dinner was well-attended - we served over 1,000 meals. Thanksgiving is typically our largest community dinner of the three we serve each year, and our average number of meals served in past years has been significantly lower - around 750. This year, guests showed up in big numbers, and the line began at 10:30 am for the delicious holiday dinner. The menu featured roasted turkey, stuffing, homemade mashed potatoes, homemade sweet potatoes/yams, and green beans. Martha's Table's kitchen began early yesterday morning, and the smells throughout the day were delicious! Music filled the rooms, as musicians volunteered their time to serenade our guests with classic songs and uplifting music.

We had over 150 volunteers throughout the weekend, and we are enormously thankful for all of their help - setting up the rooms, chopping vegetables, preparing the plates and take-out dinners, serving the meals, and even helping in the clean-up! The dinner would not have been possible without all of their help!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Statistics Reveal the Growing Problem of Food Insecurity in America

The Washington Post published an article with newly-released reports from the USDA revealing statistics about food insecurity that confirm what Martha's Table has been noticing - longer lines at food pantry days, more people coming to Martha's Table for emergency food, and longer lines for our McKenna's Wagon mobile soup kitchen.

According to the Washington Post article (found here): "The data show that dependable access to adequate food has especially deteriorated among families with children. In 2008, nearly 17 million children, or 22.5 percent, lived in households in which food at times was scarce -- 4 million children more than the year before. And the number of youngsters who sometimes were outright hungry rose from nearly 700,000 to almost 1.1 million."

The report also stressed a particular struggle for single mothers. Over one in three women raising children alone confirmed that they struggled for food, and more than one out of seven expressed concern that someone in their home had been hungry, dramatically larger than in any other type of household.

These reports reaffirm the need for Martha's Table's programs - both the Food Programs and the Children's Programs, as we provide consistent, nutritious, well-balanced meals to approximately 300 children Monday through Friday in addition to the 1200 sandwiches, 65 gallons of soup and desserts that go out nightly in McKenna's Wagon, our mobile soup kitchen. We have so far met the increased demand with help from the community - through large and small food drives and individual donors. Thank you for helping us in our fight against hunger!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of Our New Reading Corner!

This is a follow-up to Friday's post about our brand new reading corner! (See the previous post here)

Friday afternoon and evening marked the grand ribbon ceremony and the unveiling of our fabulous new reading room to the many children in our programs.

The absolute joy and excitement on the faces of the children must have made all the long hours of hard work well worth it for the Howard student volunteers, the Heart of America staff and interns, and the contractors and painters. The children were told to close their eyes and enter the room, and after they opened them, incredulous expressions filled their faces as they took in the new sight of brand-new books on beautiful (real!) bookshelves, a puppet show, brightly-colored bean bag chairs, a welcoming environment and bright, inspiring artwork on the walls.

The younger children from our Child Development Center were treated to story time from an education student from Howard University. The older children examined the young adult section of the library, and loved the bean bag chairs. Some impromptu puppet shows entertained children and adults alike.

Martha's Table is so grateful for all of the dedication and hard work that so many people put into this project, especially the Heart of America Crew, the Howard University student volunteers, and Life Pieces to Masterpieces for their donation of inspiring artwork. The children happily thanked everyone at the ceremony with hugs and aprons!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Extreme Makeover - Martha's Table Library Edition

The Heart of America Foundation has completely transformed the Martha's Table Children's Program Library in the past week. To give you an idea of where we started, the before picture above shows our previous "bookshelves," made out of milk crates. The Heart of America Foundation generously donated many hours of hard work this week, and the change they have enacted is astounding.

The more than 275 low-income children aged 3 months to 18 years who participate in Martha's Table's education and enrichment programs now have a wonderful new reading room with freshly painted walls covered with inspiring quotations, filled with more than 1,500 books, organized in numerous (real) bookcases, comfortable reading chairs, and decorated with original artwork by Disney artist Ceilia Washington.

In addition, each child at Martha's Table will receive 3 brand new books to add to his or her own home library!

This transformation occurred with the help of several members of Leadership Greater Washington. Lindsey Buss, the President of Martha's Table, worked together with three other members of Leadership Greater Washington to create the new reading room. The Dean of Education at Howard University, Dr. Leslie Fenwick, enlisted the help of Howard students in working diligently all week, painting, building, and organizing the new room. Mary Brown, the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Life Pieces to Masterpieces, coordinated the donation of the artwork for the walls. Last but certainly not least, Angie Halamandaris, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Heart of America made the entire project possible.

There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony today at 4:15 pm to celebrate this truly wonderful, exciting new room!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Trick or Eat?

One donor turned her night of trick-or-treating into a meaningful experience and took the opportunity to help out Martha's Table and the many people who come to us for emergency food each month. Ilanna Star organized her neighborhood and school and encouraged her friends and neighbors to ask for canned food donations instead of candy while trick-or-treating.

Ilanna handed out bags to friends, with a sign on the bags saying, "For some people Halloween can be a fun holiday with cute costumes and candy for kids; for those people who do not celebrate on October 31st, it can be a day to help hungry people and do a mitzvah!"

And Ilanna chose to help out many hungry people, donating carloads of non-perishable goods (one carload is pictured above), and that food will be enjoyed by many! Thanks, Ilanna!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Martha's Table statistics show that demand for canned and non-perishable food has increased from about 80 baskets a month in 2008 to 322 baskets a month in 2009. Demand seems to grow monthly. Food drives are needed (apart from Thanksgiving and Christmas). Information about donating food and conducting food drives can be found on our website

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween at Martha’s Table!

The children at Martha’s Table celebrated Halloween with all sorts of traditional fun. Girl scouts came into the Elementary Program and led a day of activities that included bobbing for apples, eating donuts hanging from a string, decorating candy bags, and much more. The children in the Child Development Center celebrated with the help of some UMD students, who led a face-painting booth, arts and crafts, and harvest fun on the playground. Please enjoy the slideshow!