Keeping Track of Common Meals
From: Diane or Douglas (
Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 07:30:02 -0600 (MDT)
We here at Songaia cohousing do not keep track of how many times people 
eat. That seems like an onerous way to approach it.  In the beginning of 
our program we asked that everyone in the community try the food program 
for three months. If, after that time
they decided it wasn't a good value for them they could opt out. After 
three months no one left the food program. Now over a year later everyone 
is still in.
As far as work goes we ask that each community adult do two work units per 
two-week period. Each meal consists of two cooking units and two clean-up 
units. We have a chart on the wall showing each meal for the week and next 
3 weeks. So for example, I could sign up one of those work units each week 
or sign up for two in one week and take the next week off. We also have a
optional unit of child-care for one of the other workers. So if someone 
wants to cook but needs child-care to do so they put an X in the corner of 
the child-care box. Then someone else who wants to do that signs their name 
to work as child-care.  We also have an optional kid-worker box for the 
older kids to work. One of the adult workers supervises the kid work in 
such situations.
We have three food buyers who do all the food purchasing. Lead cooks make a 
list of needed ingredients and the buyers get it. This helps reduce costs 
and minimize impulse buying.
For the most part this system works.  We have an occasional week (though 
its uncommon) where one or more work slots haven't been signed up for but 
one of the Food Committee people monitors this and puts out an email if 
people need to sign up.
We have 36 residents (25 adults) and eat 6 meals per week.

When we started our program we discussed the thought of keeping track of 
meals or of offering refund to those not eating all meals offered. In the 
end we decided that approach was coming from a place of scarcity (around 
food or work or money) and we wanted to come from a place of abundance. So 
everyone pays a monthly fee for the food program and everyone works as I 
described above.

Douglas Larson,
Songaia Cohousing
Bothell, Washington
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