Re: Paying and Accounting for meals.
From: Chris Hansen (
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2017 14:23:10 -0800 (PST)
We (Burlington CoHousing in Vermont) have a community of 32 households and 
approximately 65 residents
Most meal nights have 18-35 people turn up. They need to sign up at least 24 
hours before the meal, although some cooks cook enough to accommodate 
last-minute eaters.
Community meals happen on even weeknights, and everyone in the community is 
expected to be a part of meal prep/cleanup once a month.
There are four roles: Head Cook, Assistant Cook, Early Assistant (includes 
setting up with crockery and cutlery, final assembly and helping serve if 
needed), and Late assistant (clean-up- we have dishwashers and self-buss. This 
includes starting the dishwashers and washing the floor)
The head cook plans the meal and buys ingredients. They keep receipts and file 
an invoice.
All attendees (including the cooks) pay $4.50 for adults and $2 for kids. 
WE buy paper ‘tickets’ in advance, and then submit them when we eat. There are 
people whose role it is to collect them, and to check off those who signed up. 
WE have a fund of complimentary tickets for neighbors and other people who 
visit and may not be specific ‘guests’ of one resident.

> On Mon, 11 Dec 2017 at 13:46 Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>
> wrote:
>> I was asked this question off-list but I thought it might begin this
>> thread again on list to see if we get new responses.
>> We are having an average of two meals a week — one a defined rotating
>> group of cook/clean teams, and a second scheduled by a cook/clean team.
>> They vary from about 20-30. Big holidays 40+
>> The rotating group is Soup ’n Simple on Mondays. Cook/clean teams sign up
>> on a rotating basis. The rotation lasts as long as there are cook/clean
>> teams signed up. Then a new rotation starts with a new sign up list. Some
>> cooks or cleaners take seasons off — often summers— and miss a rotation or
>> two. Some cook/cleaner teams are stable from one rotation to the next.
>> Others mix and match for a rotation. Some have fixed meals that they repeat
>> — like Tacos with Vanilla Wafers and orange slices for dessert, and
>> sometimes watermelon in the summer.
>> For these meals, the team pays for the meal. Other members of the rotation
>> pay nothing. People who are not members of the rotation ask to join a meal,
>> reserving in advance, and paying $4 for adults and $2 for children. The
>> taco meal has lots of extras.
>> This has worked well continuously for many, many years, sometimes skipping
>> a summer rotation. The group finds that rotation of 6 weeks works well, but
>> if they have to cook more often than that, the benefit declines.
>> We have other meals, an increasing number, that are individually scheduled
>> by the cook/cleaner team. Sometimes volunteers are solicited by the
>> Community Team; and for others, a cook or cook/clean team spontaneously
>> schedules a meal. These often have themes — chili cook-off, Pesto Festo,
>> Pumpkin Squash Bash, holiday dinners, Sunday Brunches, etc. Some of these
>> are pot lucks and some not.
>> For individually scheduled meals, often the cook contributes the core of
>> the meal and others bring salads, desserts, etc. People pay $4/$2 to the
>> cook as indicated. Some cooks don’t care to be reimbursed. The Pesto Festo
>> meal is basil from the garden so the expense is  pine nuts and spaghetti.
>> People contribute pine nuts, bread, salad, etc. Others pay the cook. Cooks
>> usually report coming out ahead. Some members personally take
>> responsibility for being sure there is enough money in the basket and if
>> not put out a general call for contributions or pass the basket. This is
>> rarely necessary.
>> The community reimburses the cooks for workday meals.
>> Thus we haven’t had checking accounts. We tried meal cards but it was more
>> trouble than it was worth. Pay as you go has worked well. Particularly
>> since the most frequent meal is the Monday night rotation where little
>> money is exchanged.
>> Sometimes people find themselves with lots of leftovers from a party or
>> too many vegetables left when they go on vacation. These are often left in
>> the refrigerator and announced as first come first serve. One person had a
>> large amount of desserts left from a conference. She announced dessert at
>> 8:30 and a group gathered spontaneously in the CH.
>> A few summers we had spontaneous Chinese and pizza takeout groups gather
>> in the piazza on Friday nights. Variable attendance and very loose
>> socializing. Depends on current population and what else is going on.
>> Sometimes people will announce that the gas grill will be fired up in the
>> piazza and people bring food to grill and often something else to share.
>> In the beginning (and sometimes now) we had BYOD for which people brought
>> a tray with their own dinner and often a dish to share.
>> For us, I think this works well. Both the spontaneity and occasionality
>> with each week. Some would like more frequent meals and others more formal
>> meals. People are always free to schedule more meals.
>> We just added a potluck after the membership meeting and before the
>> monthly Birthday Celebrations with treats brought in rotation by one
>> household for everyone.
>> Cooks are still stepping forward but from requests for more cleaners, I
>> think this is as full as our lives can handle.
>> I’m not a cook/clean or regular dinner in the CH person so this is from
>> observation and email requests and responses.
>> Sharon
>> ----
>> Sharon Villines
>> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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