Re: Community dinner economics [FWD]
From: Fred H Olson WB0YQM (
Date: Sun, 7 Aug 94 22:33 CDT
Date: Sun, 7 Aug 94 14:25 CDT

is the author of this message but
due to a listserv problem it was posted by the COHOUSING-L sysop.
Hi My name is Ed Wolff and I live in the Nyland CoHousing Community in 
Lafayette CO.

I am a renter in the community (I live in the basement of one of the houses).
I am also a member of the Kitchen Committee.  I thought that I would try 
to speak to the question of how meals are handled here.

We have a Kitchen Committee which handles most of the routine buisness 
related to the kitchen.  There are people who handle the purchasing of 
most of the standard items that are kept in the pantry. And another 
person who is responsible for the monthly billing for meals eaten.  

We have a large board in the Common House where people sign up to cook 
meals.  We work on a five week rotation with four meals each week (Sunday 
Monday, Wednesday and Thursday).  We try to have three cooks each night.  
Our schedule also suffers during the summer months:)

As I said we have certain items that we keep in stock. Cooks recieve gift 
certificates to use to purchase food from local grocery stores.(This way 
we purchase the GC's using our tax free number and then when the cooks 
buy food that extra percentage (the amount of the tax) goes into a 
special fund.)  Gift Certs are also available to private households, 
works as both a budgeting process and a fund raiser.  Cooks normaly meet 
with the person who coordinates most of the stocking etc. and tell him 
what they are planning to cook.  He often has good suggestions on how to 
scale the recipe and which of the ingredients are already in stock.  He 
normally distributes the food certificates.  Then the cooks go shopping.

While meals are in general vegetarian, we sometimes have meat meals.  
Almost always a vegetarian option is provided.  There are also some 
people in the community who have allergies or more restrictive diets so 
sometimes we also provide "wheat free", "corn free" and "dairy free" options.

A recent trend has been to provide "kid friendly" options.  Food that we 
know most of the children will like.

This brings to mind a meal that I recently cooked at which we were 
serving what we thought was simple; Pasta and Sauce.  Well we made 
vegitarian sauce.  We then found out that there was some leftover meat 
sauce in the freezer, so we decided to serve that in addition.  We had 
also planned to serve wheat free pasta.  We ended up serving the regular 
sauce with a meat option, a wheat free option and a kid friendly option 
of pasta with no sauce only butter and parmesean.  In addition to which 
we came up with two desserts (even one dessert is a rarity), and we only 
had two cooks.  It was a great meal.

We charge $2.75 per meal, for adults and $ 1.50 for older children.  What 
we charge for the younger children is in the process of being discussed 
and modified.  Out of that money virtually all of the operating money of 
the kitchen is taken.  Cooks are allowed $1.40 per person as their budget for 
shopping.  Some meals use more stock items than others, but the $1.40 is only 
for the non-stock items that need to be bought.

(Outside guests are charged $4.50 each meal for adults and $2 something 
for kids. Those monies are either left in a can in the kitchen if the 
person is a "friend" of a community member or billed monthly if they are 
a "guest" of a community member.)  

The cooks are also responsible for clean up after the meal.  This  can 
make for a long day, but cooks do have the option of finding someone who 
is willing to do their cleanup chores for them.  

We have meal sign up sheets in the common house with a list of names 
sub-divided into households.  People check next to their names on the 
sheet for the meal which they want to attend.  We have one column for 
meat and one column for veg. And we also have a space next to those 
columns for special requests such as  "wheat free" or " I will be late 
pls save some for me in the fridge."

There is one sign up sheet for each meal, and these can easily be matched 
to a billing ledger that is filled out after each meal by the cooks.  
When the cooks are finished the submit their reciepts and change to the 
"book-keeper" who does all the billing each month.  

In addition beer is available in the fridge, most of the time, for one 
dollar each bottle.  We have a can where the money is put or an IOU can 
be made and put in instead.  Leftovers are to be had for a dollar also, 
the same method of payment is used.  At the end of the month all meals 
and IOUs are tallied and a bill is put in each persons cubby.  

Adults who eat are expected to cook once each rotation (5 wks).  A nice 
thing has happened in that some of the teenagers have started signing up 
to cook.  They used to sign up to help in addition to the three normal 
cooks but now are regular cooks. (It was their own decision apparently)  
In fact at one point we had two of the girls sign up to cook and say that 
they didn't want any other cooks to sign up with them.  And they did a 
great meal.

Gosh just looked back and this is becoming very long.  There is so much 
to say about the system and I am sure that I have forgotten somethings.  
If anyone has questions feel free to post them or e-mail me with them

Ciao for now


Fred H. Olson   fholson [at]   (612)588-9532  Amateur radio: WB0YQM
1221 Russell Av N, Minneapolis, MN  55411    |  Twin Cities Freenet  | 
Sysop of COHOUSING-L listserv & gopherspace: |  (under development)  |  or via EDIN gopher in Calif  |   info on request     |47L
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