Mission, Vision, and History
Our mission is to create a community space where people from all walks of life come together to share nourishment, connection and learning for body, mind, and spirit.
The vision of the founders of the Stone Soup Café was to ensure that community members who had a need for food on the weekend could have a meal on Saturdays. This vision informed our mission, which was born of a real need in Franklin County. Before Stone Soup Café began offering its weekly Saturday meal there was no access to a community meal or food pantry during the weekend.
The Café’s History:
The Stone Soup Café’s mission is a direct reflection of its humble beginnings. The Café was originally known as the Let All Eat Café. It was created in 2010 by Zen Peacemakers founder Bernie Glassman and Academy Award winning actor and anti-hunger activist Jeff Bridges. Their desire was to create a community meal that treated all people as valuable members of a diverse and inclusive community.
In the beginning members of the Zen Peacemakers would drive community guests to the meal at its Montague Farm location. Perhaps 20 or 30 people a week would visit the farm and share a meal on a Saturday.
In the winter of 2011 Bernie Glassman and members of his staff approached the board of the All Souls Church in Greenfield. Bernie realized that in order to serve a larger community the Café would need to be offered in a more central location. The congregation agreed to host the meal and a new alliance was born. The Let All Eat Café began serving its Saturday meal in Greenfield in April 2011.
At the end of 2011 the Zen Peacemakers handed the Café project over to Ariel Pliskin. It was his vision that brought the Café to where we are today. Through his experiences at Zen Peacemakers Bearing Witness Street Retreats, Ariel noticed that when he ate at a soup kitchen, the staff would treat them with love, but not with dignity. As a result, Ariel and others worked to create a new model of community building and hunger relief in which people of all socio-economic backgrounds are treated with dignity.
In 2012 the newly formed Stone Soup board of directors worked diligently with the congregation of All Souls Church to create a fiscal partnership agreement. The Unitarian Universalist principle which affirms and promotes the inherent worth and dignity of each individual and the Zen Peacemakers’ tenet of bearing witness were a perfect match to aid in the Café’s unique approach to creating a safe space for all members of our community to enjoy a nutritious meal.
Within the first year of its offerings the Café’s guests grew from 25 people per week to 50 – 65 diners per week and within the second year it was up to 75 -85 diners per week. Now the Café regularly serviced 90 -130 diners every week. With nearly 50% of its guests taking a second meal or a take-home meal with them the Café often serves 200 or more meals a week.
The Café is run by a board of directors and its volunteers with a few key paid staff positions. The Café has always relied upon community members, local partnerships, and donations to be able to run its meal every week. We are a grassroots organization which believes in the dignity and worth of all of our participants. Every ingredient counts – Especially You!
Please come and join us at noon on Saturday – we’d love to get to know you.
Stone Soup, where friendships are made!