GO Common Meals Proposal

Meals 2004-02-16


Defines what common meals operate, when they happen, the job roles involved, the relationship with Sunward's meals.


Common meals have been referred to as the "glue that holds community together." We have had a few years of building community with 2 shared meals a month together (at our business meetings!) Think of how often you have been relieved at arriving at one of our business meetings to a room filled with good food and friends from a hectic day and not having to then so much as boil water for the pleasure and nourishment. While different people have stepped up to cook, clean and eat, we are now at a point where all can participate with more intention using our Common House. This is in keeping with the visioning we have done as a community. This plan will change, but please consider this starting at Great Oak for March 1st, 2004.


6:15 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
5 meals per week, 20 per month, 260 per year


o Great Oak Members share in the cooking and cleaning of Common Meals for the community.
o Food costs are shared equally by all diners of each meal.
o Guests are welcome at all meals at Great Oak when "hosted" by a member.
o The GO host signs the guest up under their household, and pays for their share of the meal.
o 18 Community Meals at GO Common House, cooked, and cleaned by GO members.
o 2 meals would be "open" to Sunward diners, and GO would cook and clean as per normal.
o 2 meals would be at Sunward CH, cooked and cleaned by Sunward, "open" to GO diners.
o "Open" Cohousing (currently Sunward and Great Oak) dining:
o The 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month at Sunward
o The 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month at Great Oak
o When it is an "open meal" at GO, Sunward diners would be billed for their share (& vice versa).
(This could then be applied to Touch Stone as well)

GO members are invited to eat/work in the Sunward Meal Plan (see Ed Herstein directly). Any household interested in this will need to work with Ed as the two community labor plans work entirely separately at this time.


Head Cooks and Assistant Cooks will shop, prepare and present food. Head cooks will post menus for the community to sign up as far in advance as possible so diners can sign up to eat. Sign up "spots" are on a "first come first serve basis". Once a cook has shopped for the meal, you can only "un-sign up" with their ok, as the food was purchased with you in mind. Cooks will shop and pay for food and be reimbursed after dinners quickly via treasurer. Having menus with Vegetarian, Meat and Kid Friendly food options are the most welcoming to the most diners, but at the discretion of the menu planner.

o Shopping (head cook 1+ hour) and cooking (1 head & 2 assistant cooks @ 2 hours each) happen before any scheduled meal.
o Clean Up Team will wash dishes, clean the dining room & kitchen (3 people est. @ 2 hours each) happen after every meal


These work shifts would count as chosen community labor and would be part of the total hours every month each adult member would be expected to help with. (see community work program).
Any member is empowered to responsibly swap their shift at any time with another member. If a member can not meet a responsibility in relation to the meal plan, the task of finding an acceptable solution is foremost the person who needs the switch's responsibility. The Common Meal Coordinator(s) is a last resort to engage when a good solution is not obvious. If a member does not see a solution to participating in this work (such as kitchen is not wheel chair friendly for cooking, or a parent who has child-care conflicts) please seek out the work coordinators personally to find a good solution. There should be a creative way that everyone can plug in. We are only limited by our imagination, so please ask coordinators before you write off your ability to participate.

For the next 3-6 months we will try this system. In summer when meal attendance traditionally drops, the option of making more "shared (with Sunward) meals" may be proposed to the community to continue 5 meals per week model. If other Cohousing Meal Plans are any example, be prepared for this plan to transform over time, and will likely be quite different 3 years from now.

In addition, suggestions for improvement of the common meals that are easy to make, and clearly documented will be worked towards with every effort by the meal Coordinator. Whoever is "Coordinating" the meal program will introduce improvements on an as needed basis, taking into consideration that this is an evolving program.


o A good number of meals (integrating multiple member request for more meal options)
o Work for us, but enough benefit that it's worth it
o Get to know GO members much better
o A compromise for meals at both GO & Sunward and those who would like less "open" meals, but are ok with a few.
o A few open meals allows some "get to know you time" for both communities
o Should be easy to integrate other Cohousers (Sunward & Touch Stone) later (to be addressed after first 3-6 months of this plan) if they would like to participate in our program (once we decide how) and thus less labor for G.O.
o Meals close to home, easier for small kids and folks deterred by the distance across the pond
o Using our shared resources well (our CH, our labor, etc).
o Eating should become less expensive (time and money) for all when shopping, cooking, cleaning is considered per household for 5 meals a week. Buying in bulk, sharing meal costs, the 2-3 hours that is saved per home cook/clean up, plus encouraging cooks to make enough for left-overs (ala 2nd meal) should work out to $2-$8 per person - per meal depending on ingredients, read menu ahead for champagne breakfasts (MUCH healthier than a "happy meal").
o Because this is "in" the work program, those who like to work around food can joyously contribute to the overall happiness and health of the entire community in a way that satisfies them.


o May be more meals than all people might be able take advantage of all the time
o Meal work ads to total community work hours by members, mileage may vary
o Still do not have a fully formed proposal to address Touchstone involvement in meals (labor/billing).


Also discussed 1/19/2004

Process Comments:

0 standasides