In 1984, an 82 year old Mary McAnena, founder of Mary’s Kitchen helped a homeless women in Hart Park, Orange, California. She found her calling and dedicated herself in any way possible to help those less fortunate. Mary’s dream soon became a reality and Mary’s Kitchen was born.

Mary’s home became the headquarters of a communal effort to give. Her small four-burner stove had never seen such traffic as volunteer’s helped with cooking. They transported food to Hart park and served the men, women, and children who were homeless and in dire need. In 1994, ten years later, the kitchen moved to its temporary home on 517 West Struck, Ave in Orange, California.

Mary’s Kitchen is powered by hard working volunteers who deeply care. Financial support is provided by way of donations from individual, students, churches, local corporations/small businesses, and grocery stores.

On a daily basis the kitchen sees an average of 200 hungry people. Mary knew that beyond food they hungered for respect, dignity, and connection. With grace, humor and warmth she consistently gave them all of that and more.

In December 2003, Mary passed away at 100 years old. She had served the homeless in Orange County for 18 years. Her spirit lives on in the hearts and mind of those who continue to give as well as receive at Mary’s Kitchen.

Mary's Kitchen Story