Dr. Veronica Maz
Co-Founder of Martha’s Table
Before founding Martha’s Table in 1979, Dr. Maz worked with Father Horace B. McKenna to create S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat), a soup kitchen to help feed the city’s destitute citizens, and House of Ruth, a home for abused and neglected women. Dr. Maz realized that the city’s children were not protected from the violence and drugs plaguing DC streets at the time, especially in the dangerous 14th Street corridor. She banded together with Father McKenna once more to found Martha’s Table, a safe haven where children could go after school for a meal and a place to read and play.
35 years later, Martha’s Table continues to serve the District’s most vulnerable children and families, addressing hunger, delivering quality education programs and providing a low-cost thrift store that provides free clothing and household goods for those in crisis. No longer a one-room operation, nearly 90 employees serve more than 18,000 people in our community each year with healthy food, quality education, and affordable clothing.
Though we are best known for McKenna’s Wagon, our daily mobile feeding program for those who are homeless and hungry, Martha’s Table food programs for hungry families are also delivered through Martha’s Markets, our free, healthy grocery market in our lobby, at a nearby community center and in 8 local elementary schools. Our mobile markets feature a substantial selection of fresh produce and other healthier food selections in our “choice markets” where our families choose more than 20 pounds of groceries (enough for 19 meals).
Dr. Maz, who received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh, was a sociology professor at Georgetown when she began working with Jesuit priest Father McKenna in an attempt to turn concerns about poverty in the District into action. Together, they founded a soup kitchen when they saw people were hungry. Soon after, Dr. Maz, seeing children in need of a safe haven, began an afterschool program where kids could get homework help and eat snacks. In 1980, they named the agency Martha’s Table. As needs were witnessed, the programs at Martha’s Table continued to expand– a legacy of action to address challenges that continues today.
Through Martha’s Table and many other critical actions, Dr. Maz’s legacy lives on. Her impact in the fight against hunger and poverty in the District is immeasurable, and Martha’s Table will be forever grateful for her vision, her service, and her audacity.