Re: Meal Cleaners—any good solutions for getting 'em?
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2012 04:27:54 -0700 (PDT)
Cornerstone has invented (or borrowed) a credit/debit approach to meal 
participation, which can be loosely characterized as "cook once, eat four" — 
meaning that each time you do some meal work, you get to sit and eat four 
times.  One of our members maintains and posts the scorecard.

In this case, "cook" is defined to include (1) shopping; (2) cooking; or (3) 
cleaning.  So three credits are available for each meal.  It gets a little 
vague in that most cooks prefer to do their own shopping; sometimes two-person 
teams split both shopping and cooking.  Cleaning is often done by people who 
want to be part of the meal program, but don't picture themselves as good 
cooks.  No matter who is getting the cleaning credit, there are often several 
people helping out at clean-up time.  Accomplished cooks tend to clean up after 
themselves as they go, and tableware varies by menu complexity, so the amount 
of clean-up at the end of the meal can be quite variable.

Cost of ingredients is split equally among all the diners for a particular 
meal.  In theory, cooks and shoppers are supposed to limit ingredient costs to 
$4 a diner, but increasingly this feels like a number from the 1990s, and is 
not workable.  More often, meal costs are $5 to $10 a diner — with the high 
side prevalent for either fancy meals or large quantities.  Some cooks like to 
make more than enough, to accommodate those who show up at the last minute.  
Leftovers can be taken away on a first-come-first-serve basis, and some 
households are pretty successful at scavenging two meals for the price of one.

Community meals tend to happen once a week, on Sundays, and are often big 
production numbers.  We've recently taken some stabs at establishing a mid-week 
dinner of simpler fare.  Overall, about 2/3rds of the community is seen with 
some regularity for community dinners; about 1/3rd is rarely seen.

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

On Jun 24, 2012, at 1:57 AM, Martha Wagner wrote:

> Our food team would like to know how other communities have successfully 
> dealt with a scarcity of after-dinner cleaners. Our kitchen does get cleaned, 
> but often it's the same people who step up to clean when others don't sign up 
> or cancel after signing up. Our community does not use established cooking or 
> cleaning teams, and anyone can sign up for meals whether or not they cook or 
> clean though we request that everyone put in one meal-related hour per month. 
> Both cooks and cleaners do get participation hours and all adults pay for the 
> meals they eat. We have two regular dinners most weeks. Suggestions anyone?
> Martha Wagner
> Columbia Ecovillage
> Portland, OR
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