Re: Common Meals
From: Lois Braun (lbraunsoils.umn.edu)
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2002 13:40:01 -0700 (MST)
Michael,
Koinonia community in South Georgia hires a cook for common meals. Koinonia isn't a co-housing community per se; it is an intentional community, with community enterprises and a common purse; at least it was up until I left in '93. Since then it has undergone a major restructuring, but I think that the community lunches were such a popular institution that they've survived the changes. Lunch was served every work day to anybody on the premises who cared to come, which usually included the community members, any visitors, even if there just for an hour or two, and employees. (The seasonal workers were welcome to come but usually didn't because our food was too eclectic--except when there was fried chicken they came in droves!) I'd guess we numbered between 30 and 80 people per lunch, with 40, including children, being about average. Queenie was the cook. She worked from about 8 until lunch time daily, usually with one or two helpers, especially if cooking fresh garden veggies, which required a lot of prep. She'd work again after clean-up was over for an hour or two, planning for the next day. I don't know how she pulled off cooking for such unpredictable numbers of people, nor how she managed to serve us home-made whole wheat bread so frequently! Queenie was paid, but the help were volunteers. Clean-up was done on a rotation, with four or five people being assigned to it per meal. Regulars like myself usually ended up doing dishes about once a week. Exchanges were worked out on the spot. If there was an unusually large crowd, extra volunteers were solicited. It took only about half an hour (a good way to procrastinate from going back to your regular job, socializing in the kitchen!) I have no idea how the economics of this worked. You could find out by writing Koinonia at 1324 Ga. Hwy 49 South, Americus, GA 31709, or calling (912) 924-0391. Bonny Stitt (bonnystitt [at] aol.com) might know. In general, at Koinonia we didn't worry about economics in the conventional sense. We believed that by sharing we could stretch resources further than they go when they're hoarded in an individualistic way, and experience bore that philosophy out!

Lois Braun

At 10:25 AM 1/29/02 -0700, you wrote:
I'm exploring options for common meals.

Has anyone tried hiring people to prepare, serve, and clean up
after common meals - like a private one-meal restaurant?

If anyone has tried it, how much did it cost per person?  What
advantages and disadvantages did you experience from it?

If you haven't tried it, what advantages and disadvantages do
you imagine from doing it that way?

Another option: Has anyone tried making cooking, serving, and
cleaning up after common meals one of the jobs people take on
for the benefit of the community?  So, in other words, some
people take care of the lawn and plants, some clean the common
house, some do the financial work, and some handle the meals.
That way people who like meal preparation do that and those
that prefer some other contribution do that instead.

What advantages and disadvantages have you experienced or do
you imagine from doing it that way?

Namaste,
Michael
Heart Song Community
Santa Fe, NM

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