On Mount Desert Island, Maine, winter can mean six months of isolation and tough times, as year-round residents hunker down through the cold season. In November 2009, the Common Good Soup Kitchen opened its doors to the public, offering free soup as well as live music and a place for locals to gather, interact, and help each other. In its first winter of operation, the Common Good served over 10,000 bowls of soup to the community. Run entirely by donations, grants, and volunteer labor, the café also runs a distribution program to deliver soup to senior residences and others who cannot make it out to the café.
Larry Stettner and friends argued about the need to radically rethink the concept of the soup kitchen, emphasizing true community building along with incorporating healthy and locally sourced food. The kitchen opened with unique cooking philosophy.
"Today access to whole foods, local organic foods, and sustainable fisheries is more important than ever for our well-being. But, because of economic inequities, good whole food is once again hard to get. Organic foods are largely available to the wealthiest and most privileged among us. Let us break down the bastions and make natural, whole food—including organically based soups—for everyone."