Five years ago, two Michigan-based friends were commiserating over the sad state of their lives—Jim Crosby, a mint farmer, was losing his fourth-generation family farm to foreclosure, and chef Nick Nicklosovich was financially struggling, working three jobs and going through a divorce.
Yet rather than throw a pity party, the two looked at each other and agreed: “Let’s feed the hungry.”
With ingredients provided by neighboring farmers, they made a huge batch of soup and set up a table at the Lansing farmer’s market. They asked for a donation of $5 per bowl, plus a can of food, and all proceeds were donated to the local food bank.
That was the first of many “Stone Soup” events, so named for the folk tale about hungry strangers who convince townspeople to help turn a stone in a pot of boiling water into a hearty soup. To date Crosby and Nicklosovich’s project has fed 245,000 at events in Michigan and Arizona. Their goal is to feed 1 million.
“I was raised to give back,” says Crosby, 47, known as Peppermint Jim. “When everything around you tells you to just give up and quit, well, that’s not me.”
“When you think you have it bad, you just have to put your self-pity away and look at how bad others have it,” says Nicklosovich, 42, who now teachescooking at Lansing Community College and the Art Institute of Detroit. “Everyone is just a couple of paychecks away from being on the street.”
Arizona Stone Soup
When: 8 a.m.–noon, Dec. 11-14, 2014
Where: Four farmer’s markets in Arizona: Sun City, Mesa, Scottsdale and Ahwatukee
Cost: $5 and a canned or dried food donation
Why: All proceeds benefit the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in Phoenix
For more information, visit peppermintjim. com.