Re: Meal Cleaners—any good solutions for getting 'em?
From: Richard L. Kohlhaas (
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2012 21:33:15 -0700 (PDT)
From:                   Martha Wagner <wordbizpdx [at]>
Date sent:              Sat, 23 Jun 2012 22:57:29 -0700

> 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

Community Meals at Casa Verde Commons , Colorado Springs, CO     (34 units)

Since we moved in (2003), we have had community meals twice a week (Sundays, 
alternating Tues, Weds and Thurs evenings).  The Sunday meals alternate between 
brunch and evening meal.  One-half to two-thirds of families participate; some 
up for only half the meals, and some may drop out for a cycle or two.  .  

We have five-person crews: during one cycle (about 3.5 months), EACH (adult) 
participant MUST be head cook once, assistant cook once, and on cleanup three 
 Sometimes two people will sign up for all five jobs (two times), or two 
will sign up for the three cleanup jobs.  The head cook plans the menu, shops 
pays for the food, and then eats free the rest of the cycle. This minimizes 
handling and accounting.  
Non-participating residents (strictly limited) and guests pay $5 per meal, with 
going to the head cook and $2 to the pantry fund.  (Guests of the cook are not 
charged.)  The pantry is additionally financed with about one-third of our 
$5/adult/month community dues, and is stocked with spices, rice, pasta, flours, 
condiments, lentils, beans, butter, cooking oil, coffee, tea, etc. The cook can 
on this as needed.  Food is usually served cafeteria-style.  If necessary, the 
will prepare a vegetarian dish and offer gluten-free items.  

The schedule for a new cycle (after the number of those who will be 
participating is 
determined) is posted on Survey Monkey about a week ahead and participants 
for each day, for both cooking and cleanup:  Desirable, Possible, or 
Impossible. A 
computer program developed by a resident then calculates the best fit.    

The menu is usually published before the meal.  There is a "permanent" meal 
list; persons who will not be eating and any guests are urged to so-mark the 
list at 
least three days before the meal so the cook can plan quantities.

The head cook has first choice of any leftovers, and may offer them to the 
diners.  Very little is wasted.  If a participant will miss a mealtime, they 
can ask 
another participant to pick up a "late plate" for them.  

The system works well.  The food is usually very good to excellent. There is a 
variety of cuisines and very rarely has a meal been more than 15 minutes late, 
never has one been missed (although we came close a couple of times.)   

Dick Kohlhaas <rlkohl [at]>
Board Member, Cohousing Association of the US
Resident of  Colorado Springs Cohousing Community at Casa Verde Commons
Completed March 2003. 34 units on 4 acres

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