Meal Participation -- Dessert?
From: Audrey Watson (
Date: Sun, 24 Jan 2010 19:17:15 -0800 (PST)
At Winslow cohousing we do 5 meals/week in the winter, and this past summer dropped down to 3 meals a week. (no Fri or Sat) (past summers it's been 4 nights/week.) It is a totally voluntary system, and you work proportionate to how often you eat. We also have holiday celebrations that are separate from the meal system, mostly potluck, but we now have an annual summer party too, with hamburgers/garden burgers provided.

We have 2 cooks and 2 cleaners, and we have someone who does the scheduling as a cluster job, and someone else who does the billing as a cluster job. Meal charges and credits for what you spent as cook show up on monthly bills. The cost of the meal is based on what the cook spent divided by the number of people eating. Generally meals range from $3-$4, with some meals less than that and a few special ones more than that. I think we average about 25 people at a meal. Again, sometimes there are 15, and sometimes 35. Special occasion meals (such as Swedish Christmas dinner) can have over 50. At the beginning of a meal cycle, you tell the scheduler how many meals/week you will be eating, and what days you can't work, and she takes it all and schedules you proportionate to the amount you are eating. Generally you work one out of every 4 or 5 meals you eat. The lead cook posts the menu, ideally a week ahead of time, with the estimated cost and the deadline for signup. Generally you have to sign up by the day before, so the cook shops for the number of signups. We always have a vegetarian option, and if someone cooks meat, also cooks a vegetarian option. I'd guess we have meat/fish at least 3 times/week in some form. It's ok to to all vegetarian options. We keep basics such as rice, oil, spices, beans, in the kitchen, and those are all organic and are sold to the cooks.

This summer a few members ran a kitchen garden area and we had all of our salads out of our organic garden. It cut the price of the meals! and we had wonderful organic salads, from June thru September. And some other miscellaneous vegetables. The costs from that garden went thru grounds, so the community paid, and the labor was all volunteer. (Thanks Ann! in particular)

Desserts are up to the cook, and often are just fresh fruit, we had a lot of apple dishes in the fall from our orchard. When its someones birthday and they want to share, they bring cake. Most kids get a birthday celebration. only the adults willing to admit they are getting older. :-) Some weeks there are 2 or 3 days with dessert, other weeks there are none. No complaints. (sometimes good natured complaints about too many days of desserts from those trying to watch their weight).

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