From the Kettle - Issue #1 January 2021

From the Kettle - Issue #1 January 2021

Welcome to the Stone Soup Café’s Monthly Newsletter! We aim to share important information with you!

A New Year - A New Endeavor!

Welcome to the first of our monthly newsletters!

In this edition you will find:

  • What's New at the Café
  • Mission Focus - a monthly topic of interest
  • Staying Connected - opportunities to "meet up" with Café folx and share time
  • Recipe of the Month & Upcoming Meal Themes

What's New At The Café

January certainly has been an important and interesting month at the Café. Our staff is growing!

We welcome Cara Klempner to our staff as a grants consultant. Cara's skill and knowledge in grants and funding is a boon to our quickly growing organization. We look forward to learning about the many possibilities for our future with her guidance.

Our beloved Jansyn Thaw became our first ever Director of Programs and Marketing on January 1st! Jansyn oversees the volunteer, emergency food pantry, and delivery programs. She also does all of our social media postings and marketing for all things Stone Soup Café. Jansyn shares her creativity, compassion, and love for our community in everything she does - feel free to reach out to her anytime at info.thestonesoupcafe@gmail.com or 413-422-0020.

The bitter cold is here and we are making sure that folx have what they need! We served 2,035 meals this month! Delivered meals are very popular right now - and we are so grateful to our weekly drivers - they rock!

We also provided groceries for well over 400 individuals at our weekly Emergency Food Pantry. This service was enhanced on Saturday the 30th when Greenfield Police Officers Bill and Laura Gordon arranged for USDA boxes to be available to our guests. We love our community friends who share and care with us all!

We have compiled our annual meal data as well - we served 21,953 meals from January 1, 2020 - December 31, 2020. Because of COVID-19 our meals have more than doubled.

The entire staff, board, and volunteer crew have worked hard to make sure we were able to safely and reliably provide meals for our community. Hurrah for pivoting and planning - all our efforts have certainly made a difference.

We've been discussing and making plans for our beloved Café in the past several months. Many of our discussions have been focused on our operation and the way in which we have pivoted to meet the demand for our meals and comply with our rigorous COVID-19 safety practices. Yet, we have been keenly aware that our mission "To create a community space where people from all walks of life come together to share nourishment, connection, and learning for body, mind and spirit" has been interrupted by COVID-19. So, we have been focusing on how we can continue to create community space when there is no one in our dining room. We are committed to our community and making sure that we stay connected to you too. We have been holding zoom hangouts, having art displayed at our curbside pickup, and now a monthly newsletter to keep the connections going and growing.

The Café's resident artists, Whitney Robbins and Marjorie Morgan, created magnificent art displays for our MLK weekend. These works have helped community members have discussions about antiracism as they wait in line for meals. We also held our first ever "Pick Your Own Film Festival and Discussion Group" for the MLK weekend of reflection and celebration. We had a lovely group of participants who showed up and shared their thoughts about the films they watched. Our discussion was enlightening, it helped us know one another better and speak our truths. The Recorder write a piece about our activities - here's the link!

Mission in Focus - Pay What You Can

A lot of people are confused about our model. They wonder "What is the Café; is it a soup kitchen?" The simple answer is - not so simple! The reality is that we are neither a soup kitchen nor a for-profit restaurant. Stone Soup Café is a community restaurant operating in a manner that is more like mutual aid than a charity - and yet - we are a nonprofit corporation that allows our supporters to make non-taxable contributions to help us feed our neighbors.

Here's a definition of Pay What You Can (PWYC): A non-profit or revenue driven plan of action which does not rely on set costs for its merchandise, but rather requests that clients pay what they feel the item or administration is worth to them. PWYC relies on correspondence (connection) and trust to succeed!

The Stone Soup Café operates in a PWYC manner so that all members of the community are able to access healthy, nutritious, delicious, cooked with love meals. Our meal is for everyone, every time they want to dine with us, regardless of their ability to pay what it costs us to provide the meal.

If the Café was a "soup kitchen" many people might think that "only poor people or people in need or food insecure people" can participate in our community Café, which simply isn't true. The PWYC model invites us to all participate at the level in which we can.

Sharing our work through volunteering, our wisdom through our interactions and expertise, and our wealth through the PWYC model is at the heart of our Café. We trust our community to be here for one another and we are honored to be a part in creating a social economy that not only pays what it can but is also paid back through meaningful experiences.

"So, what does it cost to provide a meal?" This is a question we are often asked. We've done the math and we know that on average the cost of a meal is $10.00. In the past we shied away from putting a suggested donation on our meals - thinking that some folx might feel terrible about not being able to pay - or others might be inclined to only pay the suggested price rather than what they could. Operating a PWYC is an exercise in vulnerability and trust. We open ourselves to the possibility that people may not participate in PWYC and we trust that our community will pay what they can!

Want to see how altruistic behaviors like giving, helping, and sharing actually make you healthier and are wired into our DNA? Watch this TED Talk by Judith Manshanden who was one of the first to use a business model based on the idea of abundance. In her ‘pay as you can’ restaurant “GEEF! Café” (the GIVE! Café) healthy and nutritious meals were served and people paid in cash or kind as they were able. Watch the 9-minute talk here!

Staying Connected! What's The Buzz?

We always welcome your questions and feedback! Feel free to send us an email at info.thestonesoupcafe@gmail.com and we'll get back to you within 24 hours!

In February we will have a Zoom hangout focused on "Ask the Chef"! Many of you have wondered what recipes we use, how to cut an onion, or how we plan our menus. You are invited to bring your questions and curiosity to our February Zoom Hangout. We'll meet at 6:30 on Sunday February 21st - Want to join us click the link here!

Also, in February we will be reading and then discussing Dean Spade's book "Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the next)" - We are working on getting an expert facilitator for this discussion group. We'll send out a link for our first discussion soon!

Lastly, there is a February Sweet Treat Fundraiser! We are featuring Decorated Valentines Day Cookies, Decorate Your Own Cookie Kits, and 3 flavors of cupcakes. We hope you are able to participate in the FUNdraiser and spread the word too! Orders are open until February 10th for pickup on Friday the 12th from noon until 6pm. You can place your order here!

Recipe of the Month & February Meal Themes

I love February! There's usually lots of snow and I start my garden planning. I spend time with my beloved husband and make lots of comforting recipes. This month I wanted to give you a recipe that helps you make so many others - stock!

Friends making your own stock can save you money, uses your resources to the fullest, and helps our environment too. Use stock to make your soups, rice, beans, lentils, and other dishes that call for water in their recipes!

Here's the deal - homemade vegetable stock makes everything taste better! There are a few tricks to making stock - and so I thought we should start with the basics! Wash everything before you prep your meals and save the bits for your own stock!

What goes in vegetable stock? Onion, garlic, & carrot peels, kale, collard, or other greens', broccoli, cauliflower, & herb stems, celery ends and leaves, leaves from greens of all kinds (cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard, etc.), tomato, zucchini, summer squash and pepper ends too!

What doesn't go into vegetable stock - potato peels (because they are starchy and muddy your stock), hard squash peels (because they do not impart flavor and take up too much room), turnip or rutabaga peels (because they are often waxed) - basically anything that will muddy your stock should not go in it!

Collect vegetable peels, stems, leaves, and pieces from your meal prep(s) - hint you can freeze these until you have enough to make a large batch of stock. When you have 4 or 5 quarts of veggie bits you are ready to make stock!

How to make stock:

In a large pot - at least 8 quarts - place all of your peels, stems, leaves, and pieces of vegetables. Fill pot with water covering the vegetables. Place 4-5 bay leaves in the pot. You can also put in red chili flakes, garlic cloves, ginger peel, or anything else that you want to use as flavor enhancers to your stock. Do Not Add Salt!

Cover the pot and place it on the stove on very low heat for 8-12 hours. You could also do this in a crock pot on low for 12 hours.

Little tips for you during cooking - you will need to check the pot and make sure that the water level does not boil away. You may need to add more water as the stock cooks. The longer it cooks the more concentrated the stock will become. I like a concentrated stock because I can add some water and still know that the flavor will still be lovely!

Once the stock is cooked (all the veggies will be very mushy) take it off the heat. Let it cool for several hours. Then use a sieve/strainer and drain the liquid away from the solids. I use another pot and a wire strainer to separate these and then I use the bottom of a cup to press the liquid out of the veggies to get every drop of goodness!

Place your cooled stock in containers (I use the heavy duty quart sized plastic take out containers) and store in your fridge or freeze them! You can keep the stock in your refrigerator for a week or freeze (good for at least 6 months) it in containers to use as needed.

February Menu Themes:

  • 02/06/21 - Chef Brandon’s Birthday Meal - Mediterranean
  • 02/13/21 - Valentine’s Day Meal - Italian
  • 02/20/21 - Mardi Gras - New Orleans Inspired
  • 02/27/21 - Chinese New Year Celebration - The Year of the Ox

Posted: to General News on Thu, Jan 28, 2021
Updated: Tue, Feb 2, 2021