Re: Meal Cleaners—any good solutions for getting 'em?
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2012 05:33:40 -0700 (PDT)
Hello all --

This has been the most interesting thread.  The many ways cohousing groups have 
devised their meal plans shows the diversity of solutions based on each 
community's social culture.

I'm going to throw in "Soup n' Simple" from Takoma Village here in Washington, 

We have one sit down meal a week on Monday night.  (We have lots of pot lucks, 
brunches and in the summertime especially the grills are fired up during the 
week and on weekends.)  

This post describes the Monday night dinner.

It's Simple, Sustainable and almost Maintenance Free.

This meal plan is based on a "rotation" system.  A rotation is determined by 
the number of people signing up divided by the number of people needed on a 
team which gives you the number of weeks in the rotation. In our case we 
started out w/ four people on a team.  Now there are three people.

Here's an example:  21 adults sign up divided by 3 people on a team ='s 7 weeks 
in the rotation.  For seven (7) weeks each team buys, cooks and cleans up one 
time. The cost of the meal is set at $5.00 per adult -- I don't know how much a 
child's meal is.  

Each team decides who buys, cooks, cleans.  Each team pays the cost of one 
entire meal one time and eats the other six at no charge.

Since the price of the meal is set, the number of people at a meal is set, and 
since everyone in the rotation is on a team, no money changes hands and no one 
has to track who is doing what.  Very Simple.  If you miss a meal ... you just 
miss a meal.  Guests are charged $5.00 per meal -- we ask the cook in advance 
if it's ok to bring a guest.

At the end of the rotation, one of the members puts up a new sign up sheet for 
the next rotation and makes an announcement at a meeting.   That's the extent 
of the maintenance.  People sign in and out of the rotation period as their 
schedules allow.  Sustainable.

This meal plan has been in effect for 8-10 years.  A little under one-third of 
the adults participate in the system at any one time.  Children generally 
participate if their parents participate.

Here's a fun addition to our overall meal system.  Twice a month one of the 
members cooks a "Kid's Dinner."   Kids only.  He started offering this on his 
own.   He gets assistance from various members for cooking and cleaning.  Not 
sure how the meal is paid for -- he does put out an announcement 1 day in 
advance.  It's a simple initiative provided by one member on his own that 
benefits everyone in the community.  In my best begging posture which I have 
honed to an ART form I just don't seem to be able to wrangle an invitation to 
this dinner ... Oh ... I'm too old ...  :-)

Best --

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church VA

On Jun 24, 2012, at 6:55 AM, R Philip Dowds 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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