Community Opinions

COMMENTARY: Food security, politics and the well-being of our community

Martha's Kitchen Executive Director Bill Lee writes an open letter to San Benito residents about handing out meals and helping others.

This commentary was contributed by Bill Lee, executive director of Martha’s Kitchen. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.

My name is Bill Lee. I have been proud to be a resident of San Benito County for the past 31 years. Many remember me as the founder of San Benito Shutter, but for the past two years I have been operating a large charitable food operation in Santa Clara County called “Martha’s Kitchen.” For more than a year, we have brought prepared meals and hygiene kits to San Benito County to assist solving food security and hygiene for the individuals experiencing homelessness in our community. When the COVID-19 pandemic started in March, we not only expanded that operation here locally, but we began to furnish groceries to housed families that could use a little extra assistance. We have partnered with local nonprofits such as Hollister Community Outreach/My Father’s House and the Salvation Army. We provide 35+ pound boxes of groceries weekly to approximately 1,500 families in San Benito County.

One of our regular food distribution operations is every Friday at noon in the City of San Juan Bautista. We have been providing groceries to this site since mid-May and continue to do so, despite some of the local political scuffles. Notably, we have faced obstacles from a few local politicians. It appears they wanted the food we brought, only if they can claim credit for the food provided.

Martha’s Kitchen is fortunate to be able to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars of food every month to our neighbors in San Benito County. However, we believe that it is time for the community to understand who is really behind this operation. In addition to Martha’s Kitchen, there are local partners who work very hard to make this happen. Linda and Patrick Lampe from Hollister Community Outreach/My Father’s House have put in countless hours of their time and much of their personal money to keep the food flowing here locally.

If you want to help, I encourage you to step up. Hollister Community Outreach is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization. Contact the director, Linda Lampe, by calling or texting (831) 801-7775. She can be emailed at [email protected].

To continue to provide these resources really requires a whole-community effort. If you have time, treasure or talent to offer, please help us help our neighbors. You are valuable as a volunteer, a donor or providing any other special skill that can assist with this effort.  

Some of you reading this are already involved with other charitable efforts locally and for that we are truly grateful. The social safety net of our community is completely dependent upon the members of our community stepping up and helping. Please make a difference and get involved somewhere. You can choose to help foster children, pet rescue, the domestic violence shelter, community parks, the homeless and other causes, just to name a few suggestions. Your participation determines the quality of our community. It is time for all of us to get involved. In helping others, you will find true happiness. 

The elections will be over in November. Some of the politicians, win or lose, will disappear and will no longer be volunteering. Our organization and our partners will remain and continue to serve our community. We ask that you do the same. We invite you to join us.


Bill Lee