The Stone Soup Cafe: Community Engagement One Meal at a Time

Greenfield’s Stone Soup Cafe
Bringing Community Together One Meal at a Time

It can be easy to go through your family’s daily, weekly, and monthly routines without actively engaging with a diverse cross section of the community. Even families who routinely do volunteer work or explore new areas are somewhat limited in their ability to connect with others whose experiences – in the same physical location – are very different from their own. Strong communities, though, depend on interconnectedness amongst all of their members. In order to be resilient, a community must allow for those from all walks of life to have a voice, to be respected, and to be understood.

Greenfield’s Stone Soup Cafe offers a venue that supports just that! Stone Soup is a weekly pay-what-you-can community cafe that serves fresh, homemade food to community members of all ages, backgrounds and dietary restrictions (gluten-free & vegan options). Located at All Souls Church in Greenfield, MA, (and supported by the congregation), the cafe is run based on the idea that food is a common thread in all communities, and that in sharing it, people from all backgrounds can bridge differences and connect with each other. In addition to community-building efforts, Stone Soup is also helping to address the issue of hunger in Franklin County. The cafe is the only place in Greenfield to get a free meal on Saturdays, making it a necessity in the lives of many families and community members.

Families can support Stone Soup’s efforts in a variety of ways. Donations of funds and food (the fresher the better) are, of course, always welcome. More importantly, though, families can volunteer their time to help the cafe run smoothly. Unlike most other organizations that offer free community meals, Stone Soup requires that not only do their volunteers commit to giving their time to work, they must also commit to becoming a part of the community at the cafe. Volunteers can participate in opening and closing circles, where, alongside cafe patrons, they discuss triumphs and challenges in daily life and get to know each other better by connecting despite differences.

Families with children who are not yet old enough to volunteer can support the cafe by integrating a meal into their weekend schedules. Payment for meals offers necessary financial support for the cafe, but becoming a patron also helps to broaden the cross-section of the community that the cafe serves, and allows families to build understanding and awareness of the needs and life circumstances of others in their community.

Stone Soup Cafe is located at 399 Main Street in Greenfield, MA. Monetary donations can be made via the organization’s website, and volunteer information and shift sign-ups are accessible online. For further information, contact Ari Pliskin at 413-461-8770 or ari.pliskin@gmail.com.

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