‘We are not alone’: Thanksgiving community meals provide full stomachs and hearts

  • Music played in the background as Hetty Startup, at left, and a line of volunteers prepare Thanksgiving meals at Stone Soup Cafe in Greenfield. Staff Photo/Julian Mendoza

  • The first wave of hungry locals come together for a free Thanksgiving meal at Living Waters Assembly of God in Greenfield. Staff Photo/Julian Mendoza

Staff Writer
Published: 11/25/2021 4:19:28 PM
Modified: 11/25/2021 4:19:12 PM

GREENFIELD — Area churches kept locals fed, thankful and in the company of others with Thanksgiving dinner services Thursday.

For the holiday, All Souls Church’s Stone Soup Cafe distributed around 500 meals via curbside pickup and delivery to individuals in Greenfield and the surrounding communities. Living Waters Assembly of God fed people in the church itself, providing a free homemade sit-down Thanksgiving dinner to locals.

By the time Stone Soup Cafe began serving people at around noon, the line extended up to Main Street. Although RSVPs for meals were down 100 from last year’s count of 350, around 100 volunteers had come prepared to distribute enough meals to match the 500 given out by the end of the afternoon on Thanksgiving last year.

“I’m ready for 500 if that’s what happens today,” Stone Soup Cafe Executive Director Kirsten Levitt said, highlighting the importance of “promoting bounty and not having a scarcity mindset.” “And if there’s not, I’m ready for leftovers on Saturday.”

Levitt noted those who helped put on the event had been inspired by conversations with racial justice groups and conversations with Indigenous people at the Pocumtuck Homelands Festival. Volunteers aimed to acknowledge and remind others the often forgotten history of colonialism and atrocity tied to Thanksgiving Day.

“We are trying hard to ... balance the need to bring people together and have a healthy meal, but also amplify Indigenous voices,” Stone Soup Cafe Board President Whitney Robbins said.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure from the traditional white American Thanksgiving. … I don’t want people to feel like they have to do it all themselves,” Levitt said.

Hetty Startup, an Interfaith Council of Franklin County Leadership Council member and volunteer, said morale was “very high” in the kitchen as dozens of volunteers worked toward a common goal.

“Doing something positive helps,” she said. “There’s a feeling that we are not alone.”

Members of the community showed gratitude toward the volunteers for taking the time out of their holiday to be of service. Edward Maeder, a choir singer who had regularly attended the church pre-pandemic, commended Stone Soup Cafe for “putting the community and their energy where their mouth is.”

“They’re just unbelievable people,” he said.

Keila Santana, organizer of the Thanksgiving meal at Living Waters Assembly of God, was similarly grateful for the amount of people who contributed their time. She took pride in the way her church had garnered “a little bit of everything” in terms of preparing a banquet, with both community contributions and in-house donations providing the food.

“I think it’s great,” Santana said. “We normally do between 150 and 170 (servings).”

She added that an important element of the dinner is the communal aspect of seeing everybody together.

“Maybe they have stuff or money or whatever, but maybe they are alone,” she said of any given person. “That’s what the church is here for.”

Reach Julian Mendoza
at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.




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