top of page

About Us

Stone Soup PDX is a non-profit foodservice training enterprise based in Portland, OR, providing workforce development & hands-on culinary expertise to people at risk of houselessness.

Brussels Sprouts

Our Story

Craig and Ronit Gerard, co-founders of Stone Soup PDX, live to help people. They both grew up with the principles of Tikkun Olam (Hebrew for “helping to repair the world”), volunteering and coordinating volunteers in and around the communities they helped build. While serving at their second USAID assignment in Cambodia, between 2008-2012, the couple was inspired by Friends International, an organization which runs a 3-step culinary program for youth experiencing poverty in Phnom Penh. Drawing on this inspiration and their own research of the employment training ecosystem in Portland, they created a business plan which included a training restaurant that would support career development for those struggling with housing insecurity. They discovered that food service job training was indeed something that was missing amongst the many social services programs working with this population in Portland.


After connecting with FareStart, which provides similar career training programs in Seattle, and their subsidiary Catalyst Kitchens, which mentors other organizations around the country to do the same, Craig and Ronit realized they had both the tools and vision to create a program that would have a lasting impact on Portland. Motivated by the values they had grown up with to leave the world in a better place for their children, Craig and Ronit hired Catalyst Kitchens in the fall of 2018 which provided the initial training curriculum, rented a location at NW Broadway and Everett, and Stone Soup PDX was born. 


Stone Soup opened its doors to the public in the summer of 2019, operating a fast-casual lunch counter offering seasonal soups, salads and sandwiches, using the restaurant to train those facing housing insecurities. Word quickly spread, and soon catering operations became a second focus for the young food business. 


However, the spring of 2020 threw a wrench into their budding business model. A resourceful pivot allowed Stone Soup to organize, cook and serve meals to physical distancing shelters set up by Multnomah County to keep people safer during the pandemic. These community meals not only offered a simpler platform to train the Program Participants, they also provided a more stable source of revenue for the organization. These community meals are now an integral part of the organization.


Five years into operation, the long-term goals of the organization focus on the financial stability of the program alumni. The relationships Stone Soup has fostered with social services agencies, as well as foodservice nonprofits and grocers over the past five years are critical to recruitment as well as securing job opportunities for participants. As a social enterprise, various sources of earned income directly support its mission and program. These sources include a retail soup line, catering services, and the community meals mentioned above for local county and private shelters, day centers, and schools. These enterprises offer clients an easy way to support the organization’s work by ordering high quality and nutritious food. 

Meet The Team

Our Partners

Central City Concern.png
bottom of page