Re: Common Meal Accounting
From: PattyMara (
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 21:39:13 -0600 (MDT)
At Tierra Nueva we've been doing common house meals for almost a year now, 
three times a week.
<< Do you pay only at the end of the month?
We have two payment options:  prepaid cards with ten meals for $27.50 for 
adults, and $13.75 for kids.  Or:  $3.00 cash at the door.

<<Do cooks put out cash and get reimbursed at end of month?
Cooks pay cash for food and get reimbursed immediately from the Comida Nueva 
checking account.

<<does anyone use the prepay system where folks pay in advance and get credit 
 as they use it?
We do very successfully.  Most everyone uses the meal card, which gets 
"punched" for every use.

<<Is there a big chart with everyone's name and a check mark for each meal... 
Besides the cards, there is an accounting sheet with everyone's name which 
gets marked for every meal with how the meal was paid for:  meal card, cash 
or free (cooks eat free) or halfprice (cleaners get half price)

<<Do kids pay half or....?

 <<What does your average meal cost?
Remarkably, $2.75.  Some meals go over budget, which is $2.75 (2.25 for food 
purchased for the meal and .50 for pantry supplies), and some go under budget 
and it all averages to $2.75.    This takes some practice.  Some folks will 
never get the hang of shopping smart, though.  And some are consistently 
under budget with fantastic menus.    

 <<Has it been hard getting folks to pay up?  any tricks here?
It has been easy using the meal cards.  Only occasionally does someone pay 
cash.  We do have one member who sneaks in after dinner has been served and 
tries to slide through without paying, but he's been caught a few times and 
now pays up most every time.
We are just in the process of reorganizing the cooking teams, which up until 
now has been purely volunteer basis.  Now we are trying a core team of 6 
cooks and the kitchen manager.  We've planned all the meals for November, put 
together a master chart with all the menus and will be assembling cooking 
teams of one core cook and 2 assistants.  We are reorganizing due to a lack 
of activity during the summer and some complaints that the meals are not 
balanced enough for vegetarians and carnivores and kid food.   

I would be happy to send you copies, Marty, of our forms and policies, if you 
send me your snail mail address.   Best of luck to you!  

By the way, we have a rotating team of kitchen co-managers (2) who serve for 
6 months.  We are on our third team.  Each team has added a different 
"flavor" to the job.  The benefit to serving on a team is free meals.  Duties 
include stocking the panty, keeping the refrigerator clear of leftovers, 
doing the cash box and meal card punching for every meal, buying supplies and 
equipment when needed and organizing new routines and policies if the current 
one is in need of repair.  Also, wrangling the checkbook for reimbursement.  
We seeded our Comida Nueva account with $10 from each family.  

We also have a separate team of common house co-managers  who serve 3 month 
tours.   Their benefits are not having to work on a common house work team 
(monthly cleanup commitment).

I just got home from a spectacular common house meal of Snapper Veracruz, 
Black Beans and Rice, Yams baked in molasses and rum, warm tortillas, fresh 
salsa from the garden and chocolate mousse.  

And it was one of those days at work when I thought about how marvelous it is 
to come home after a long day and walk into the common house and be served.  


Patty Mara 

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