Hundreds gather for Stone Soup Thanksgiving meal

  • Volunteer Elizabeth Nash serves food during Thursday's first annual Stone Soup, United ARC Thanksgiving dinner at All Souls Church in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/MIRANDA DAVIS

  • Volunteer Carina Lemire serves food during Thursday's first annual Stone Soup, United ARC Thanksgiving dinner at All Souls Church in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/MIRANDA DAVIS

Recorder Staff
Published: 11/24/2016 10:27:43 PM

GREENFIELD — For the large crowd that showed up at All Souls Church in Greenfield on Thursday, the food and the sense of community did not disappoint.

It was the first annual Thanksgiving dinner from Stone Soup, which serves meals at the church on Saturdays, and the United ARC, an organization that provides services to individuals with physical and mental disabilities. Several hundred people attended the meal.

The dining area was packed with people. Menus were set up on each table and colorful origami birds decorated each place setting. They served a full offering of classic Thanksgiving foods, including turkey and potatoes, as well as more uncommon dishes like squash bisque and kale salad.

Stone Soup asks people to pay what they can, and said the meal is inclusive, meaning that anyone from the community is welcome.

Willow Ross, the cafe manager for Stone Soup, said that part of what makes Stone Soup different is a focus on serving everyone with dignity. A meal like this one is an equalizer for everyone there. Anyone can walk in the door, no questions asked.

“Just because you’re food insecure doesn’t mean you’re less-than,” Kirsten Levitt, the executive chef for Stone Soup, said.

Levitt said that they prepared 16 turkeys for the dinner and 150 pounds of smashed potatoes. Every meal at Stone Soup is different and includes vegan and gluten-free options. Levitt works to create a well-rounded meal every week for Stone Soup regulars.

“I want to make sure real, delicious food gets into the mouths of those who may not be able to access it otherwise,” she said.

Everyone eats at the Stone Soup meals, including the servers and volunteers. The tables were a mix of United ARC clients, Stone Soup regulars and volunteers.

A recent addition to the cafe area, the wheelchair ramp, made the meal accessible to all. The meal also included a craft area with foam cutouts and glitter.

Tyler Boone, a Stone Soup board member, said it was an easy decision for the board to approve the Thanksgiving meal.

For many, the holidays can be a time that adds additional stress to those in addiction recovery. He said that other meals in the community on Thanksgiving are great, but an additional perk of this meal is that there is no alcohol, so it is a safe space for anyone including those in recovery.

Beyond that, he said the mix of people is always one of the best parts of the meals.

“The cafe has always been a place where you have amazing community,” he said.

Organizers and those who came out to the meal said the option can be better than stressful family situations. Many said that this was the community they wanted to celebrate the holiday with.

Tom Campbell, a board member for United ARC whose son Francis uses the ARC services, said the meal was beyond a success. He said the ARC used to have its own Thanksgiving meal, but that this was better because it was a mix of community members, and was less isolating.

He spoke about his son and how the family started working with ARC as a way to give back for the services they had received. He looked around the room, where everyone was talking to others and going for seconds and paused.

“I think this is love personified,” he said.

You can reach Miranda Davis
at 413-772-0261 ext. 280


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