Residents from ‘every walk of life’ convene for Thanksgiving meals

  • Kirsten Levitt and Matt Goulet (at left, in white aprons) oversee volunteers preparing Thanksgiving meals for Stone Soup Cafe’s distribution event in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Volunteers from the Franklin County Community Meals Program prepare Thanksgiving meals at the Northfield Trinitarian Congregational Church. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Volunteers from the Franklin County Community Meals Program prepare Thanksgiving meals at the Northfield Trinitarian Congregational Church. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Locals wait in line for Thanksgiving meals at Stone Soup Cafe in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Locals enter the Northfield Trinitarian Congregational Church for Thanksgiving meals. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Volunteers prepare Thanksgiving meals for Stone Soup Cafe’s distribution event in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 11/24/2022 6:12:55 PM
Modified: 11/24/2022 6:12:45 PM

Acknowledging that the world can be rife with inequity and hardship, local meals program organizers did their part to ensure everyone had a Thanksgiving dinner this year.

“It’s such a good feeling to be able to feed people,” said Lisa DeWitt, site coordinator for the Franklin County Community Meals Program event held Thursday at Northfield’s Trinitarian Congregational Church. “Leading up to it, I think it can be nerve-wracking because I want everything to be perfect … but afterwards, I’m going to feel good.”

In partnership with the First Parish Unitarian Church, the Franklin County Community Meals Program and Trinitarian Congregational Church offered a Thanksgiving meal from 1 to 2 p.m. It was the second Thanksgiving the program has held in Northfield, according to DeWitt, who said organizers have been on a mission to “elevate what (they) do.” This, she said, has involved procuring “good, quality, fresh food” from local farms and providing options for those with dietary restrictions.

“My family’s going to come here and eat, too,” she said. “I have to put it in my mouth. I want to feed people the same quality I feed my kids.”

One hundred and ten reservations had been made in advance of Thursday afternoon. To meet this demand, the program’s dozen volunteers readied the church with a wide spread of soup, turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, roasted vegetables, cranberry sauce and dessert.

“I love the idea of a community meal and bringing everybody from every walk of life together for a meal,” Dewitt said, noting that she feels the event is an occasion to “forget social status.”

Recognition of diverse backgrounds was likewise at the forefront of what Greenfield’s Stone Soup Cafe organized for Thanksgiving. The cafe at All Souls Church hosted A Day of Mourning and Thanks Giving, recognizing and honoring Indigenous people. Executive Director and Chef Kirsten Levitt said the cafe paused meal preparations at noon to stream the National Day of Mourning, an annual demonstration held to educate people about Native American history and culture, as a way to “stand in solidarity” with the millions of Indigenous people who have been “marginalized” throughout the country’s history.

“I’ve never been able to go to the Day of Mourning, so to be able to sit in was extremely moving and emotional for me,” she said Thursday afternoon. “It just brought home again that our nation needs to wake up and look at what’s happening and how institutional white supremacy makes striations … that don’t need to exist.”

Between 130 and 150 volunteers banded together to assist with this year’s Thanksgiving meal distribution at Stone Soup Cafe, Levitt estimated. The group, which Levitt said is “deeply committed to creating a sense … of welcoming or belonging,” thoughtfully recognized the Day of Mourning. They “felt really powerful and embodied” upon their return to the kitchen, where they prepared enough food for 700 meals.

“There’s been more people here helping ... than we’ve ever had,” shift leader Matt Goulet said.

Levitt said prior to Thanksgiving, she grew wary that embracing such a custom of abundance and indulgence on Thanksgiving might inherently be upholding white supremacist tradition. Upon consulting local tribal representatives, though, she was told that her Thanksgiving efforts would just be “another day of giving thanks.”

“Every day that we serve a meal at the cafe is giving thanks,” Levitt noted.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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