Re: how many people for common meal...
From: juniperjojo (
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2006 11:57:49 -0700 (PDT)
Adi gave a good summary of our meals program, and to answer your question (and 
also highlight something Adi touched on), we do not require* participation in 
our meals program, per se, in any way.  It "averages out," if I understand your 
question.  (Sometimes we have 40 adults and 20 kids at dinner, sometimes 20 
adults and 5 children, but we've never thrown a meal and had no one show up.)  
It's entirely volunteer-run, but because the food is (almost) always good and 
relatively inexpensive, most meals are well-attended.   Tuesday night Adi's mom 
(with help from community members) cooked a delicious Indian meal that was 
unusually well attended, but even "light" meals generally have over 20 people 
in attendance.
There are no requirements for members to cook, clean, or eat in our meals 
program.  Most of us do, either because we enjoy it, or because we recognize 
the value to the community and feel it's important to participate (even if 
somewhat grudgingly).
*Of course, the work hours required to support the meals program mean that 
everyone's monthly work requirement is higher than it would otherwise be -- but 
you can fulfill your monthly work requirement without ever setting foot in the 
common house kitchen or dining room (e.g., by mowing and doing other 
landscape/grounds maintenance in the summer, shoveling/plowing in the winter, 
I thought it might be helpful to provide a little additional background, as 
well.  Although many of us moved in in August of 2003, our meals program didn't 
start until 2004, over six months after many of us moved in, because the common 
house was the last building to be completed.  There were many -- and I was one 
-- who were highly skeptical of our ability to support a five-night-per-week 
meals program.  However, Amy Nesbitt (and others) perservered, persuading the 
skeptics by assuring us that we could always cut back on the number of meals if 
it was too much work, and in retrospect I'm very glad they did.  If we had 
started at three meals per week I don't think we would ever have gotten the 
consensus or the energy to increase to five or even four meals per week.
In the interests of full disclosure, I rarely participate in common house meals 
because I commute a long distance to work and usually can't get home in time 
for the common meals (which start at 6:15) -- but I'm still glad they're there.
So based on our experience, I guess I would encourage Shelly's group to try to 
stretch to pull off 1 more meal per week than they think they can.
We also have a pretty slick online meals sign-up system that, for the record, I 
was vehemently opposed to, but which I have grown very accustomed to using.  
The online system replaced a handwritten notebook, and I liked having to go 
into the CH to sign up for meals because it forced me to go to the CH more 
often.  However, this way I can sign up for dinner (or check to see if I'm 
signed up for dinner, or find out what's for dinner next Tuesday, or un-sign up 
for dinner) while I'm at work!
Jenny Cook
Great Oak Cohousing
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Message: 6
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2006 12:04:15 -0400
From: Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ how many people for common meal...just starting
To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
Message-ID: <35a478759414d6d72f3510be3139d604 [at]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed

On Aug 10, 2006, at 11:17 AM, R.P. Aditya wrote:

> We track menus, assignments, meal signups, billing etc. all online 
> (and have a
> list of our five upcoming meals at ) and have 2 
> meals
> billers who collect and deposit monthly checks, make reimbursements to 
> cooks,
> answer questions about bills and make changes and corrections (if you 
> were
> allowed to sign up late for a meal etc.). The billers get 2.5 hours of 
> work
> credit per month.

Do people have to sign up for meals or does it just average out?

Thanks for the great post -- I'm particularly interested in the 
allocation of work hours.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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