Student Forums
A journal of social practice & professional engagement for the Antioch community

What is Martins?

Martin de Porres House of Hospitality, affectionately known as Martins, is a Free Restaurant, serving soup for anyone and everyone Monday – Saturday from 1-2pm. Martins was inspired by the catholic workers movement which lead to their mission to “serve in the spirit of compassion, love, and understanding.” Martins is a non-profit 501(c)(3) community that is run as a collective, meaning no funding comes from the government or the church, leaving Martins to be dependent on private donations.

What have I been doing here? 

For the past couple of months, I have been helping as a full time volunteer at Martins working Monday through Fridays, with the exception of Wednesday, from 9am- 2:30pm. My day to day activities range throughout the week, mainly since everyday we serve a different kind of soup. Monday’s are Oatmeal, Tuesday’s Tofu Curry, Wednesday’s Minestrone, Thursday’s Black Eyed Pea, Friday’s Split Pea and Saturday’s Lentils. The days are usually spread out to three different shifts: 



During this time is what is called “the big chop”. The volunteers gather around the serving counter with knives and cutting boards, ready to tackle the 7-9 trays of freshly washed vegetables and greens for the soup and sides. Along with the chopping, we also place bread on trays and make tea to hand out to the guests before we begin serving lunch. 


It is finally serving time! For this, the volunteers gather around and decide who wants what job. There is no real hierarchy when it comes to shift duties, there is a general crew chief who is there to help, not control or boss around. The jobs are simple kitchen duties like dishwashing, serving, or walking around bussing tables. During this shift as well, there are showers on Tuesdays and Thursdays, along with a free pop up clothes and necessities store, filled with items that are usually donated.  


At the end of a usually chaotic but satisfying shift, we begin the clean up process. It usually takes around 30 minutes or so since there are around 10-12 volunteers per shift which really makes the clean up easy. The clean up consists of washing dishes and pots, mopping floors and other front of the house operations. We offer bathrooms everyday, which also need general cleaning.

Community and Communication

We are open to serving any kind of person who walks through the doors. The goal of the Martins location is to provide sanctuary, a calm and inviting space to lounge around and enjoy a meal or simply sleep in peace. The majority of our guests are unhoused and low income locals, so we cater more to their needs on the daily bases. Along with providing their material needs, we also help with setting guests up to receive government funds, and even sometimes housing. There are many guests who come in who have been a part of the community for 10 years. This free kitchen is the only source of food for some folks in the Potrero/Mission area, so it is vital for Martins to continue to create meals and feed the people.  

I never considered social justice work as something I would have been interested in, but since being here at Martins, I have loved it. Entirely, I feel so grateful to have been able to come and volunteer here while making so many special friends. My experience has been unforgettable and has even become a place I want to spend many years in. I can not wait to return to this wonderful, and loving community.

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