Re: Common Meals (Sandy Thomson) safety
From: patti [at] (
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2020 09:54:17 -0700 (PDT)
Hi, Sandy,

I’m in a 24-unit urban condo cohousing in Durham, NC.  We have several medical 
professionals (doctors, public health nurse, nurse with epidemiology specialty) 
in our group who have advised us on safety. To continue gathering safely while 
eating food, we started with small group meals outdoors or in a well-ventilated 
dining area where we could sit about 10 feet apart. Couples sat together (as 
“1) and these were limited to 5 “units.” Four to six people would usually 
participate.  Everyone brought their own food; some got takeout to support our 
local businesses.  As interest and confidence grew, we identified 4-5 areas 
where small groups could gather, mostly outdoors. For me personally, this was a 
great way to spend quality time with neighbors, in some ways more 
relationship-building than sitting together in a full community meal.  

Then we ventured into community meals, and have had 2-3 so far.  A two-person 
masked, washed, and sanitized cook team prepares and serves the food.  Maybe 
gloves for serving, I’m not sure.  No one touches the utensils except the 
servers, and everyone brings their own dishes and silverware.  Also, people 
only go through the line once, and they can pick up food and eat back home if 
they prefer (e.g., high-risk individuals).

I think this could be done with a pot luck, too, if everyone brought their own 
serving spoon(s).  It would be easier as far as cooking goes. So far, the load 
here is on just a few people who love to cook and really want the community 
benefits that accrue from shared meals.  I would cook for the group if I could 
cook a dish in my home and then deliver it for the main cook team to serve. I 
feel anxious wearing a mask for very long, and it's hard for me to hear people 
who are masked, so that makes it not fun for me to be on a cook team at this 


On 6,Aug 2020, at 6:16 AM, cohousing-l-request [at] wrote:

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Today's Topics:

  1. Re: . Common meals? (Sandy Thomson) safety (Fred-List manager)


Message: 1
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 2020 07:11:45 -0500 (CDT)
From: Fred-List manager <fholson [at]>
To: Cohousing-L mailing list <cohousing-l [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ . Common meals? (Sandy Thomson) safety
Message-ID: <alpine.DEB.2.20.2008050708320.34548 [at]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII

Becca Brackett <ecbrackett [at]>
is the author of the message below.  It was posted by
Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
due to a problem.

--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------
- Sandy, I am not in cohousing, but I have advice on food safety.
The most common transmission of Noro Virus that causes  diarrhea
outbreaks ( like on cruise ships)  is that multiple people handle the
serving spoons, serving forks and dishes.
So if you resume potluck dinners,  I would recommend one person in full
protective gear and mask with disposable gloves,  would be serving the
It would be best to share food that is piping hot from  the oven,  or is in
individual servings-  like muffins are going to be handled less than a loaf
of bread which is sliced at the table.   individual sugar or salt packets
not a shaker.
Of course for Covid we are concerned about airborne transmission so the
server is masked and if dining out on a patio is possible  - do that.

Bringing your own dining ware, maybe,  but the commercial dishwashers in
the common house probably sterilize better....
That might be a big job for one person to do clean up, but dishes could go
in the dishwasher and stay there when dry?

Becca Brackett - retired Family Physician

> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Mon, 3 Aug 2020 16:39:33 -0600
> From: Sandy Thomson <sandykthomson [at]>
> Subject: [C-L]_ Common meals?
> I live in a rural cohousing n SW Colorado.  The amount of covid cases
> around here is pretty small relatively and we are considering going back to
> having common meals in a month or two.  Are any communities still having
> common meals or have gone back to having them? If so what precautions are
> you taking?  We have great outdoor eating and serving space so we are going
> to start with one potluck a month outside on the terrace. Hand sanitizer at
> the beginning and end of the line. People bring their own dishes and take
> them home to wash them.
> Thanks,
> Sandy
> Sent from my iPad


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