Martha’s Table, which has long provided food and education for DC families that need help, has undergone a lot of changes lately, including a new headquarters near the Anacostia Community Museum in Southeast and a new CEO, Kim Ford. We talked to Ford—a Sidwell Friends alum and former Obama White House staffer—about what the nonprofit is up to.
When you were a teenager in the ’90s, you volunteered at Martha’s Table yourself?
We used to chop vegetables, make sandwiches, and pack things. I remember being in the kitchen and my mom would joke that she couldn’t get me to cook at home. The only time I was in the kitchen was at Martha’s Table.
One of your current initiatives is to make your no-cost boutique available to people returning home from incarceration who need clothes for job interviews.
You get a credit card where we load $40 worth of credit every month, and it recurs. It’s like being at Macy’s—you check out with a retail associate. It’s subtly teaching financial literacy and budgeting skills.
What does it mean to be in the new location after so many years on 14th Street, Northwest?
We all know that 14th Street has changed since the time that I was [volunteering] there 25 years ago. The people who used to live there are not the same people who live there now. When we moved [to our current headquarters], we asked what people wanted to see. Now we have the Hub [an open lobby area] because people said they wanted somewhere nice that they can go and just socialize. You walk in, people smile at you, they greet you, they treat you like a human being.
What’s the most rewarding part of the job?
Yesterday I was rolling around in a pumpkin patch with a couple of two-year-olds. Who doesn’t love that? Every now and then, a kid will sneeze directly into your mouth, and that’s fine. Maybe that’s why I’ve got a cough right now.
Any long-term goals for Martha’s Table?
It is a truly ambitious goal to say that we can stand alongside this community and help fight off the forces of gentrification, but we firmly believe that we can do it.
This article appears in the December 2019 issue of Washingtonian.