From the Kettle - Issue #3

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

Welcome to the Stone Soup Café's Monthly Newsletter.

We aim to share important information with you!

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 and learning
  • Recipe of the Month & Upcoming Meal Themes

What’s New At The Café:

March was another record month at the Café. We served 2,016 meals! That means that in the first quarter of 2021, we have shared 6,061 meals with our community members. Our pantry continues to be a huge help to those in need. In March we distributed grocery items to 350 people. We served the Just Roots Feastival Meal on March 24th – that’s another 200 meals going out to our community. The next Feastival meal is on April 28th.

If you missed our segment on PBS’s Connecting Point you can watch it here! Our segment starts at minute 12:30. We were thrilled to host Ross Lippman here on February 27th and he certainly captured our 2nd largest meal of the year – Chinese New Year feast.

Our volunteers dedicated over 500 hours of service to prepping, cooking, serving, and distributing meals and pantry items! Every ingredient counts and without each and every one of you our soup would not be so flavorful! Thank you so much for your continued dedication and support.

I want to take a moment to thank our staff for their tireless efforts and dedication to our community. This year of COVID 19 has demanded that we rise to the needs of our neighbors and I am proud to work alongside you all. An extra special “Thanks” to Chef Brandon, who has been leading the kitchen once a month and making some tasty food for us to enjoy.

Chef Kirsten

Mission Focus: Pay What You Can - Paying it Forward

Almost a decade ago the Stone Soup Café was born into being through a community naming process. Then executive director & founder Ariel Pliskin conceived our community as one that would support our efforts through a Pay-What-You-Can and Pay-It-Forward program. He had high hopes that those who could pay would do so and perhaps even pay-it-forward by giving extra to pay for other meals as well. Ariel wanted to create “a new model of hunger relief in which people of all socio-economic backgrounds are treated as valuable members of a diverse and inclusive community.”

Back then we had a very small budget, less than $20,000. In 2011 we fed 25-30 people each Saturday and everyone was a volunteer, even Ariel! We developed a food philosophy, created a steps-to-service volunteer plan, and brought community offerings to our Café a couple of times a month. I remember one week when I spent an extra $40 for our Thanksgiving meal and was reminded of our $68 per week food budget!

Well, here we are 10 years later and times sure have changed! We are so blessed to approach the 10th anniversary of the Café. So many lives have been touched, so many people have been fed, so many beloved members of our community value and cherish us. We are so grateful.

Our board is about to embark on our annual process of creating a budget and we are fearlessly looking at our community’s needs and what it will cost to continue our work. From very humble means and beginnings to the now COVID 19 realities, our budget has exploded. We know that we will serve at least 25,000 meals this year and our projected budget expenses will be at least $250,000!

We want to be 100% transparent with our community so that you all understand what it takes to run the Café. Recently I took a deep look at our first quarter 2021 profit and loss statement and recalculated the actual cost of each meal. The actual cost for each of the 6,016 meals was $11.93 each. That’s an increase from our last cost calculation of almost $2.00. Prices on everything are rising as COVID 19 continues.

Our services have grown from 25 people a week to over 350 people per week. We distribute 425-500 meals every Saturday and we collaborate with many other organizations to feed our community on other days of the week too. Our Saturday food budget exceeds $600 each week, packaging, salaries, rent, and administration have all gone up too! We now have one full-time and seven part-time employees, and upwards of 45 volunteers a week. It takes a village to make sure the meals and our programs all happen every week without a hitch.

You may wonder how the Café is doing with the Pay-What-You-Can model. The truth is – not so good. When we average the number of meals provided with the money in the donation box and the weekly online payments we receive between .75 - $1.25 per meal. That’s about one-tenth the amount of funding it takes to make our program possible.

So, you may ask, “How is the Café able to continue its operations with such a small percentage of costs being covered by the pay-what-you-can donations?” Good question. The Café has been working diligently to find other funding avenues. These include fundraisers, events, catering, grants, and private donations. Even with all of those funding streams, our growth has outpaced them. We are turning to all of you to ask the essential question – can you do more for our community?

Are you able to pay for your meal? Are you able to pay for the meals of others? Could you subscribe on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis to provide meals to our community? If your answer is “yes”, won’t you consider doing so today and aid us in our mission?

I invite you to consider supporting the mission by donating on a recurring basis. As the needs of our community have grown so has the Café’s budget. We need all the help you can share with us! Support Our Mission!

Working to be just, compassionate, and equitable is why we are a “Pay What You Can” Café. We depend upon one another for sustenance and support. We share our work, we share our food, we share a common purpose, and we create equity through our meals, our messages, and access to our resources. What could be more compassionate, just, and equitable than us all participating in the making, packing, and freely sharing our meals? What could be more fair and caring than for each of us to choose what we can afford in return for these offerings? Want to pay for your meals? Donate here!

As ever, I am in awe of our beautiful community and the many blessings we share with one another.

Chef Kirsten

Staying Connected: What’s The Buzz?

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

Conversation About Racism: Staying Curious, Moving Forward, and Being Part of the Solution

We are hosting a program designed to encourage discussion between Black and white people and help us learn to appreciate and understand different experiences and perspectives. The conversation will focus on the life experiences of three local Black community members, Jeanne Hall, Richard Hall, and Gloria Matlock, including their thoughts and feelings about the murder of George Floyd and the January 6 violent storming of the Capitol by thousands of people seeking to overturn the results of the Presidential election. The moderator will be Allen Davis, an educator, and racial justice activist.

Time: Apr 11, 2021 06:30 PM Eastern Time

Join Zoom Meeting:

Our discussions about Dean Spade's book "Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the next)” continues on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, April 13th at 6:30 pm. We’ll be discussing “What is Mutual Aid” & " Solidarity Not Charity" chapters 1-4.
  • Monday, April 26th at 6:30 pm. We’ll be discussing “Working together on PURPOSE” Themes: Group Culture, Leadership, Burnout, Conflict, Joy -chapter 5

We ask that you have read these chapters and in true mutual aid style, we still have books available for you if you would like to read and join our conversation. Here’s the Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 863 8181 3066

Passcode: 957337

Recipe of the Month & April Meal Themes

Friends, last month I shared my seaweed salad recipe with you. It would be awesome to know if you tried it out! Feel free to send me feedback at our address.

March certainly blew in like a lion and seemed to blow all month long. I was so grateful for the warmer days and the melting of the snow. I delighted in the crocuses and snowdrops that magically appeared in my garden. They reminded me that spring was definitely happening even on those cold blustery days.

We’ve been really blessed by the availability of avocados through the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts several times this year. My favorite dish to make with this amazingly delicious nutritional superfood is avocado tomato salad. Many Café guests have asked for my recipe – so here it is – just for you.

Avocado Tomato Salad

4 avocados

2 Roma tomatoes

¼ cup red onion- finely diced

¼ cup flat-leaf parsley – rough chopped

¼ cup cilantro – rough chopped

Juice of 1 lime or lemon

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Sriracha (optional)

¼ teaspoon cumin

Salt & Pepper to taste

A couple of notes on preparing vegetables – when you are cutting tomatoes a serrated knife is really handy, it cuts through the tougher outer flesh with more ease and helps to retain the integrity of the fruit while slicing. When dicing onion, avocado, and herbs you want to use a chef’s knife. A dull knife is dangerous – so make sure your knives are sharp. If you need them sharpened for you the butchers at any supermarket will do that for you – for free!


  1. Cube your avocados – watch this video for 3 easy steps to get that fabulous fruit cut and freed from its skin with ease

  2. Dice your tomato and onion – (remember to use the correct knife for each) watch this video for an onion cutting tutorial!

  3. Roughly chop your herbs

  4. Juice your lemon or lime

  5. Combine these ingredients in a bowl large enough to mix them

  6. To make the dressing, whisk together the red wine vinegar, garlic, cumin, Sriacha, salt & pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl.

  7. Pour the dressing over the salad – taste and adjust heat, spice, and salt and pepper to your taste.

  8. Serve as a side dish or over salad greens or even with your favorite chips. You can also top hearty chili or tortilla soup with this delicious salad.

April Meal Themes:

  • 04/03/21 – Easter – Ham Dinner

  • 04/10/21 - Siblings Day – Indian Cuisine

  • 04/17/21 - Int’l Haiku Day – Japanese Themed Meal

  • 04/24/21 - Earth Day – Chef Brandon will serve up a delicious meal