Stone Soup, local church and United Arc offer collaborative meal on Christmas Day

  • Jannie Dziadzio is served food at the Stone Soup Cafe in the basement of the All Souls Church in Greenfield on Christmas day, Sunday, December 25, 2016. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Brian Ross, of Bernardston, the director of adult services at the United ARC, is served brunch at the Stone Soup Cafe in the basement of the All Souls Church in Greenfield on Christmas day, Sunday, December 25, 2016. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Visitors to the Stone Soup Cafe in the basement of the All Souls Church in Greenfield on Christmas day, Sunday, December 25, 2016. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Doug Dziadzio and Jannie Dziadzio share brunch at the Stone Soup Cafe in the basement of the All Souls Church in Greenfield on Christmas day, Sunday, December 25, 2016. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Published: 12/25/2016 11:18:25 PM

GREENFIELD — For volunteers serving at the first annual Christmas Day brunch inside All Souls Church, a Santa hat was an acceptable substitute for a hair net.

But that was not the only decor worn by those serving and attending the community meal. There were reindeer antlers, festive sweaters and one beard decorated with lights.

Stone Soup hosts community meals at the church every Saturday, but Sunday’s Christmas brunch was born out of a previous collaboration with United Arc for a Thanksgiving Day meal this November.

They found success and a new tradition worth repeating. So after that, they began planning another meal: a Christmas and holiday brunch, this time in collaboration with All Soul’s Church, where Stone Soup hosts its regular Saturday meals.

The tables Sunday were a mixture of volunteers and community members. Denise Schwartz said she, her husband and son all decided to come to the meal and volunteer. She said they wanted to do something different this year.

“We’ve had a lot of Christmas dinners together and we thought this would be a good thing to do today,” she said. “But I have to tell you, the food is so good we might be here every Christmas.”

The meal brings together many different groups: Stone soup regulars, United Arc clients, parishioners of the church as well as anyone from the community who hears about the meal. Anyone is welcome and it’s a “pay what you can” system, with a suggested $10 donation.

Russ Lilly wore a glowing Christmas light necklace as he greeted friends he’s met through the regular Stone Soup meals. Lilly is currently serving time in jail, and is doing work through the pre-release program. Much of the work he does through the program touches food systems. He also works at Just Roots and helps grow vegetables that are often donated to Stone Soup meals.

He said that, technically, helping at Stone Soup is part of his program, but he doesn’t really see it as work. He called Saturdays he spends with the Stone Soup team a “bonus’’ to his program.

“Sitting down with a bunch of people and eating is such a good thing,” he said. “It brings people together.”

Sous-chef Mel Bender said they started small preparations for the meal on Wednesday. That included three 25-pound turkeys donated by local farms. Every Stone Soup meal includes vegetarian and gluten-free options as well.

About 90 people attended Sunday’s meal.

Bender said for those who come out to the meal, there’s an appreciation for giving, not the kind that requires money, but about giving community and support to those who need it.

“To me this is more fulfilling — I don’t mind unwrapping presents, but this is what the holidays are all about,” she said.

Reach Miranda Davis at
413-772-0261 ext. 280
or mdavis@recorder.com.


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