Re: how many people for common meal...
From: Fleck (
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2006 19:18:23 -0700 (PDT)
Me too, me too. Would love info on on-line sign-up!
Anne @ Jackson Place Coho Seattle

-----Original Message-----
From: juniperjojo [at] [mailto:juniperjojo [at]]
Sent: Thursday, August 10, 2006 11:58 AM
To: cohousing-l [at]
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ how many people for common meal...


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, etc.).

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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