Re: how many people for common meal...
From: Craig Ragland (
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2006 10:21:30 -0700 (PDT)
Before assuming that you would resent having to pay a flat monthly fee, you
may want to better understand what we offer ourselves.

Full participants in the Songaia food program receive up to 5 common meals
per week PLUS they can freely draw all the food they need out of our common
pantry. This shared, common pantry has more than 100 items plus lots of
spices/teas). So while you may not be able to eat a common meal, you may
well still enjoy a Songaia meal prepared with food from the common pantry.

If full participation doesn't work for members, they can use a pantry-only
option, in which they draw from the pantry and do not participate in common
meals - the cost of this option is tuned to your level of consumption

and/or - members can pay $4/meal for adults or $2/meal for kids.

So, people can choose which forms of participation they want. Given that you
would only pay for the full, $97.50 option if you felt you received the
greatest value from that option, you are unlikely to resent that CHOICE.

I think Doug (from Songaia) was recommending the Flat Fee as a model for a
newly forming community looking to establish a strong community. This was
how we operated for many years before we added the Pantry-only option this
year in response to a family who decided they didn't want to participate in
our common meals.

I'm very clear that what Songaia does is not for every cohousing community.
We are blessed by abundance here in many ways, including high storage
capacities, which could easily be expanded. We also have great depth in
community experience, with members that are deeply engaged in the
movement... we're hosting both the upcoming FIC Organizational and the next
Coho/US Board Face-to-Face meetings. We also produce some of our own food
and may expand our local production as we continue to deepen our engagement
with our land. I wouldn't be surprised to see us host a CSA at some point.

In Community, Craig
(who made & served Songaia Plum and Apple Sauces at breakfast this morning)

On 8/11/06, juniperjojo [at] <juniperjojo [at]> wrote:

I know every community (just like every child) is different, and what
works for one may not work for another.  But as a person who dearly loves my
cohousing community (most of the time, anyway), but who for logistical
reasons attends very few common meals, I would resent the hell out of having
to pay a flat monthly fee for meals and would instead drop out, rather than
pay what sounds to me like a lot of money for meals I would never eat.  And
then my son and I would miss out on what is often a fun part of our day,

I would advocate for, and far prefer, the pay-as-you-go sign-up system,
unless everyone's circumstances are more or less the same.  But requiring
that one pay a monthly flat fee, or not participate, seems kind of
harsh.  (Can't afford to pay $98/month for two meals?  Too bad!  We don't
want you in our meals program, anyway!)

The Songaia meals program sounds a lot like what we used to do in the ICC
co-ops when I was in college (lo these many years ago).  I was a cook and a
buyer for two years.  This system worked well (usually) because we planned
meals a month in advance and the buyers ordered all of the food, and we not
only had a large (industrial) refrigerator but we had access to local
produce and other delivery services.  I can't imagine this working in our
(Great Oak's) common house kitchen.  We opted -- at the architect's advice
-- for a *very* small refrigerator, and we don't have a lot of dry food
storage room, either.  I suppose we could add daily food buyers to the work
system, if we start having problems finding enough volunteers to be head
cook/meal planner/buyer.

If you have a spacious, well-designed kitchen with room for a large
refrigerator, though, this could be a great solution.  It certainly takes a
lot of the pressure off of the head cooks, a position I have never asked to
do chiefly because I don't want (and don't have time) to plan a menu, shop
for the food, and cook for that many people.

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