About the Café

Since its creation in 2011, Stone Soup has been committed to breaking down social barriers like class, race, ability and age, in order to bring people together around cooking and eating to create a beloved community, increase equitable access to healthy food and build solidarity. The original founder of Stone Soup Café was Bernie Glassman who built the culture of the Café around Zen Peacemaker Tenets. Today, Stone Soup consists of three central programs: a Pay-What-You-Can Community Meal, a Free Store, and a Culinary Institute program. Beyond these, we offer cultural and community engagement events throughout the year such as volunteer opportunities, workshops, live music, public art displays, and festivals.

Our Programs

Community Meal

The Community Meal at Stone Soup Café provides access through curbside and delivery service to delicious, nutritious, scratch-cooked, balanced meals every Saturday to any and all of our community members on a pay-what-you-can basis. We partner with myriad Franklin County farms and businesses to source and glean fresh, local, produce and ingredients for our meals. Reducing waste, strengthening regional food systems, and improving equitable access to healthy and high-quality food are some of our highest priorities. Our menus cater to a variety of dietary needs and cultural cuisines with vegetarian, vegan, or meat selections. These weekly meals are prepared, served, delivered and enjoyed by volunteers from our neighborhoods and schools. Food that the Café prepares but doesn't serve is packaged and donated to the Franklin County Community Meals Program. In 2023, Stone Soup Café served between 550-600 meals every Saturday to over 180 households each week. Over the course of the year, the Café provided 31,812 cooked from scratch meals.

Free Store

The Free Store at Stone Soup Café, is a curbside food pantry that was created at the prompting of our guests during the onset of the pandemic. Since 2020, it has grown steadily as food prices have increased and stayed inflated as Covid-era benefit supplements have ended. Every Saturday, our Free Store provides between 80-110+ households with weekly access to groceries, produce, and personal care items at no charge. We use our previously mentioned network of local partners to source items. We are a member agency of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Other pantry programs in Greenfield are closed during the weekend, so the Free Store at Stone Soup provides important access to supplemental groceries and food for people who work conventional Mon-Fri, 9-5 type schedules. Stone Soup collaborates with the Compost Cooperative to ensure that all of the food scraps from all of our programs go back into the soil and not into the landfills.

Culinary Institute

In 2022, Stone Soup created a Culinary Institute program (SSCI) with support from the State of Massachusetts. Stone Soup Culinary Institute strives to offer more equitable access to career training and economic opportunity to people seeking a new career path, especially those who are seeking employment after a period of incarceration or recovery from addiction. SSCI formalizes the twelve years of experience that the Café has in training volunteers to carry out the fundamentals of food preparation into a free 12-week course. Applicants who are accepted into the program attend tuition-free and leave with a Food Handlers License, a ServSafe Certificate in Kitchen Management, job skills, practicum experience, and references for securing work in the vibrant and emerging food culture here in Franklin County. In the spring of 2024, Stone Soup is partnering with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the State of MA to provide training at SSCI for a mixed cohort of students coming from the community and from people re-entering society within a year of incarceration.

Values

Three Peacemaker Tenets

At the Café, we work hard to embody the Three Peacemaker Tenets adapted from the Zen Peacemakers. These tenets were first developed and articulated by one of the original founders of Stone Soup Café, Bernie Glassman, in 1994.

  1. Openness: letting go of fixed ideas about yourself and others.

  2. Bearing Witness: to the joy and suffering of the world.

  3. Loving Action: a commitment to heal oneself and the world.

The Four Agreements

As members of this organization, we also are inspired by and do our best to commit to The Four Agreements:

  1. Be impeccable with your word. Be kind, clear, truthful, and timely with your words.

  2. Don’t take anything personally. Stay curious and be grateful for growth opportunities.

  3. Don’t make assumptions. Reflect on what you know and don’t know: ask questions!

  4. Always do your best. Show up to help the team.

The Four Agreements were created by Don Miguel Ruiz, a writer and renowned spiritual teacher. They are based on the wisdom of the Toltecs, an indigenous people of Mexico who preceded the Aztecs. These mentor statements aided in the formation of our core operating values at the Café. The staff and board of directors affirm and promote core values that ensure that all people are valued.

At the Café, we know that all people are striving to do their best and that we are always a work in progress. Through our sharing and connections, we learn about one another. Through our communication we create relationships. We treat one another with respect and compassion when discussing challenging issues. We resolve to try again when we fall short.

Strategic Goals

1) Nurture our Growth

Secure a new location to call home so that we can offer in-person dining again and expand our services. The Café will be open at least 5-days a week to nourish our neighbors on a pay-what-you-can basis.

2) Strengthen our Network

Collaborate with partner agencies to fill gaps in our local food systems and provide nutritious meals with love and dignity across all income levels.

3) Develop New Programming

Expand our culture of belonging by offering culinary, social justice, art, and wellness programming. Diversify our workshop offerings.

4) Invest in People

Develop our leadership capacity to sustain growth, support volunteers, and transition into our new space.

Location

Stone Soup Café is located in Greenfield, MA, and serves the geographic region of Franklin County, which occupies a land area of 702 square miles in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts. Franklin County is the most rural county in western Massachusetts. Through our volunteer-led delivery program, Stone Soup provides pay what you can meals to Greenfield and ten surrounding towns, for people who are homebound, have limited access to transportation, or are physically or otherwise unable to come to Stone Soup in person.

You can find us at 399 Main Street, Greenfield MA 01301 (at the corner of Hope Street and Main Street). Our entrance is the red door on Hope Street.

Our mailing address is: PO Box 57, Greenfield MA 01302

2023 Annual Report

Gratitude Report 2023 by stone soup

Fostering a Sense of Belonging

There are so many forms of oppression to acknowledge in order for us to get on with the work of belonging and being together and recognizing our interconnectedness.

Grief Acknowledgement

Let’s acknowledge the inhumanity of slavery and the violence that colonialism and white supremacy continue to act upon all of our bodies, especially those that are marginalized.

So much has been stolen from enslaved people and the original Nipmuc, Pocumtuc, and Wabanaki Confederacy people. Labor. Land. Language. Ceremony. Food. Education. Housing. Healthcare. Governance. Medicines. Kinship. Humanity.

This is only a first step in acknowledging that we must work to heal and repair our community as we co-create for belonging.

Commitment to Antiracism

As a Café Volunteer or supporter, it is essential that you understand Stone Soup's commitment to antiracism:

We are committed to the ongoing work of building our beloved community, where all walks of life come together to share nourishment, connection, and learning for body, mind, and spirit.

We know we must work hard to promote solidarity with all our neighbors and challenge colonialism so that we can practice antiracism at all levels of our organization.

In order for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and ALL people affected by racism to feel welcome and have a sense of belonging at the Café, we commit ourselves to the ongoing work of building relationships with all members of our community, especially those most exploited, oppressed, and marginalized.

We will practice antiracism through our daily actions at the Café by intentionally building a culture of inclusivity, justice, and transformation. We will network and reach out to all our neighbors through ongoing education and dialogue, collaboration with partner organizations, and engagement with social movements.

We are dedicated to this process of learning, and becoming antiracist.

This is who we are.

It's hard work, and it's heart work.

It means we will not tolerate racism at the Café. We will work together to learn from each other, and to mend and course-correct any mistakes we make along the way.

We encourage you to engage in this work with us!

Land Acknowledgement

“When we talk about land, land is part of who we are. It’s a mixture of our blood, our past, our current, and our future. We carry our ancestors in us, and they’re around us.”

—Mary Lyons (2019) (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe), The Native Governance Center

We acknowledge, in our own imperfect way, that The Stone Soup Café is located on the ancestral homelands of the Nipmuc, Pocumtuc, and Wabanaki Confederacy.

The history of Native Americans is our shared history and a vital part of American history, and we can learn from it together. It is a living and evolving story of resistance, resilience, economic strength, and cultural revitalization. It is also a painful history of wrongdoing and loss.

Stone Soup Café recognizes that a brutal process of genocide and land grabbing is an undeniable part of our history. We understand that colonialism, racism, and capitalism intertwine in a harmful vicious cycle.

We are implicated in that harm unless we work to undo it. We continue to look to Indigenous communities for other ways to show up and follow their lead. This, too, is a part of our antiracism work.

It is important to understand the long-standing history that has brought you to reside on this land and to seek to understand your place within that history.

Who are your people? Who claims you? What land do your people come from?

Gender Inclusivity

At Stone Soup Café we strive to be a fully inclusive organization where everyone belongs and can participate fully. The Café knows that using an individual's chosen pronouns demonstrates solidarity and respect for who each person is. Each community member is encouraged to state their pronouns on their nametags if they choose. We will re-direct, educate, and support those who have difficulty acclimating to this practice.

Pride Flag Black Brown LGBTQIA Pride Rainbow Flag Black Lives Matter BLM Trans Pride

Mission

To create a community space where all are welcome to share nourishment, connection, and learning for body, mind, and spirit.

Vision

To nourish our community with healthy food, sustainable systems, responsive mutual aid programs, creativity, and a vibrant culture of belonging.