A Plan that Furnishes a Meal for 7-1/2 to 9 Cents. Nine of the most staid and respected families in Burrton, Kansas, have thrown away their stove lids and packed their dishes on the back kitchen stoves. Whether they have imbibed somewhat of the restless “something new” spirit of their maternal commonwealth or not, they have shocked the ordinary ideas of economic prosperity, and have formed a co-operative living association wherein the food question is settled upon a cooperative basis.
Burrton is a small village, without any immediate prospect of growing larger. Located in the midst of a fair farming community, it has no opportunity for imperiling choice land products, nor, indeed, enough means to procure a city variety. The size of the town does not warrant the location of a bakery, and all the wheat stuff must be bought from the neighboring cities. As a consequence of the limited population, there is a very small supply of hired help even smaller than the limited demand. The heavy burdens of the household fall upon the housewife alone, and very little social intercourse can be enjoyed. In such a condition of affairs the Co-operative Living association was organized for the economic and social benefit of its membership. In order to insure a reliable, orthodox reputation, the association has enrolled among its members bankers, merchants, druggists, and a representative precepter and dominic. The practical advantages of the club may be noted as follows: First the saying of from fifteen to twenty-five hours of “kitchen worry” per week. Second, the providing of well-cooked and well-served meals, ranging in cost from 7-1/2 to 9 cents per meal. It may be well to note that low rents ($8.00 per month for an eight-room house) and the comparatively low wages paid to the cook ($25 per month, with use of house, and with board for herself and family of three children) may not be duplicated in larger towns. A purchasing committee of three members buys the provisions, groceries at wholesale rates, meat by the quarter and side, and all provisions in correspondingly large quantities. Another member acts as treasurer, and all bills are paid promptly every Monday morning for the week ending the Saturday previous. The real disadvantages and those likely to be met, may be specified – a careless cook, high rents, unsuitable building, distance of home from clubhouse and the monotony of living away from the home board. To sum up, for 8 cents per meal, the heat and worry of the kitchen are avoided, hired help is largely dispensed with, greater variety is provided with a small outlay of labor and money, and apart from the economic value of a month’s living being reduced to $7.00 there is a social feature that makes meal time a feast of fellowship as well as an alleviator to the pangs of hunger. The Scranton Tribune, Scranton, Pennsylvania. May 11, 1898. Page 9.