Guidelines: Meals, Food Production, and Health

benefits and work contributions
photo by Marek Studzinski

This page is more in the form of a template, but also contains some guidelines.


Shared meals:

  • Prefer shared meals daily
  • Prefer shared meals weekly or monthly
  • Shared meals should be optional
  • Shared meals are necessary community glue
  • Shared meals are necessary for efficiency and low cost

If your group will have frequent shared meals, it’s important to ensure that there is honest discussion up front about accepted foods, rather than frustration later.

Food commitments:

  • Accommodations for Celiac’s or gluten sensitivity
  • unprocessed foods
  • raw foods
  • freegan
  • low carb
  • high quality of food preparation
  • Severe food allergies will be posted prominently in the kitchen and all food allergens will be forbidden in all shared buildings


  • Commitment to all organic
  • Organic non-certified is okay
  • Commitment to local-grown as much as possible
  • Commitment to non-GMO
  • All food choices are accepted

Plant-based or not:

Some need to eat animal products because of severe allergies to many other proteins. If you’re curious why this issue could be a dealbreaker for some people, here’s one easy read:

Here are some options for how to describe your group’s decisions about foods to include:

  • Strictly vegan (no animal products)
  • Primarily vegan
  • Strictly vegetarian (no milk, meat, eggs)
  • Primarily vegetarian
  • Fish okay
  • Cage-free eggs okay
  • Conventional eggs okay
  • Small local dairy products okay
  • Conventional milk products okay
  • Certified-humane meat okay
  • Conventional meat products okay
  • Everyone makes their own food choices even when eating together

Food Production

  • We are working toward producing all or nearly all of our own food.
  • We are working toward a mix of producing our own food and buying groceries.
  • We don’t plan to be involved in farming or gardening as a group.

One place to start, to discuss what your food production would or would not include, could be Green America’s description of the Climate Victory Garden.


All of us need a home environment where we can feel relaxed, both people who need extra considerations, and people who are asked to accommodate those needs. There’s not one right answer. We all simply need to find a good fit.

High infection risk:

  • Will your group accept people in a high-risk category who must have those near them take precautions seriously?
  • It’s important to discuss and get agreement from everyone in your group if you plan to include people who are in a high-risk category and need strict precautions from people in their IC. Otherwise you might not get their full compliance, or they may feel resentful about mandates they feel impose on them too much. Some people have a temperament that makes it harder for them to be ultra vigilant.
  • Is your group willing to turn away those who not by choice cannot live closely with immune-compromised individuals? For example, some work in medical environments and have high exposure to infection. Others have young children attending daycare or school, who it would be too taxing to monitor sufficiently at home or within a community where they have close contact with people needing accommodations.

Severe allergies:

List foods, medications, animals, bites, or other things you or those in your group have severe, possibly deadly, allergic or other medical reactions to. This will help others not waste their time if, for example, they have dearly-loved pets that simply can’t be accommodated in the amount and type of space your group has chosen.

If your group includes someone with an extreme allergy, what protocols will you have to ensure that foods aren’t brought in that could potentially be lethal?

Pandemic norms:

Your founders’ group has an obligation to state what your expectation is for compliance if further pandemic restrictions come about. Even though many people insist the pandemic is over or was a hoax to begin with, there are others who feel frustrated that “normal” hasn’t returned for them. Many still feel vulnerable. If your founder’s group has strong feelings about this, state them. If you are willing to go with whatever results from group decision-making process, state that too.

The following list may be all that’s needed for a household or group under 10: Maintain strict social distancing and masks outside the IC (forming a “pandemic pod”)

  • Sanitize hands frequently in the IC
  • Sanitize hands frequently in public
  • Vaccinated are welcome
  • Unvaccinated are welcome
  • Only normal hygiene within the IC; no extra precautions
  • No masks or distancing requirements around friends and family who aren’t part of IC
  • Masks expected only when in public and mandated
  • Keep good health practices for good immune function

To prepare a larger IC for during times when governments have issued pandemic-based restrictions, see the more detailed template for pandemic-related precautions.  

Health conditions and mobility limitations:

If your group is looking for people with particular challenges that you or those close to you may share, you could make this part of the name of your group. It will be a big selling point to the targeted group. This could even form the basis of qualification for grant funding to support a service-based community. Give enuf information that potential member can determine whether they will be adequately supported or welcomed. If health conditions, even mental health issues, are likely to limit the working capacity of some, how many individuals with this condition can the community support? Does there need to be a ratio of individuals with and without the condition?

Others’ health conditions can also cause a burden of caring for others and doing extra work that some members can’t help with. It might not be a decision your group feels it needs to make in advance, but it’s important to discuss. Twin Oaks, for example, had a falling out of some committed members when there were differences of opinion about how much rule-bending and extra accommodations the community members owed to one member struggling with prolonged depression.