By Chloe Wray
Crossing the street from behind Cleveland Hall, I found Food House, located on East Street in front of the student garden, its porch full of residents, eager to greet their dinner guests.
One of Grinnell’s three Project Houses, and home to twelve students, the house is an intentional community committed to healthy and creative eating.
Four nights a week, Food House opens its doors for a community meal. By RSVP-ing in advance, any student is welcome to partake in the meal.
I was brought into the house and introduced to Charlotte Richardson-Deppe ’19. This is her second year living in the house. Amidst the dinner atmosphere, she was able to give me an idea of just what Food House is, how it works, and the purpose it serves.
Without any subsidizing from the College, Food House is completely self-operated. Each member cooks one meal, does dishes one night, completes one chore every week, and contributes $25 for food costs. The food budget is supplemented by the $3 guests are asked to pay for a meal.
“There are people who haven’t had much cooking experience and are dedicated to wanting to know how to cook. … It’s a good blend with people who are really gourmet,” Richardson-Deppe said.
When asked about the meals typically eaten, in addition to them being fresh and vegetarian with a vegan option, Richardson-Deppe said, “I would say we do a lot of bowl meals. We had chili last night, we’re having couscous and a bean dish tonight. Emphasis on chickpeas.”
On any given Monday through Thursday, the members of Food House and five or six guests sit down in the house’s living room to a relaxed round of introductions and check-ins. After eating, the group slowly broke apart to do homework or clean up, while some hung back, taking a chance to chat a bit longer as a break in their days.
“I think our biggest act of hopefully radical social justice is creating a space for people to come together, take the time out of their day and actually eat dinner together. I feel like in D-Hall, you may be sitting with friends, or you may not actually be sitting together, everyone’s overlapping and it’s kind of crazy. This is every day, at 6:15, these twelve people and a rotating cast of guests sit down, eat dinner together, talk to each other.”
This past week, both Facebook and bulletin boards have been plastered with posters and announcements encouraging students to sign up to receive a weekly emailing of Food House’s menu.
“We really want to expand our outreach, because I think a lot of people don’t know about Food House, so we have been trying to revamp and make our email list really broad. I think widening our appeal and making it ever more inclusive and known by the community as a resource is a good thing.”
In addition to open community meals, Food House hosts dinners on behalf of the college for events like Writers@Grinnell. Last year, guests and faculty ate dinner at Food House for events like this. Historically, Food House has baked cookies for students studying at Burling, and hosted a Tiny Dorm Concert and an art show. They are hoping this year to host small events like scones and tea, or a pancake breakfast.