Group aims to reduce food costs, build community

The inspiration came when Sarah Brinkley was home one night and really hungry. She didn't have money to buy dinner, and she didn't feel like cooking.

'There's gotta be a way that someone in this situation can be fed,' she said to herself as she Google-searched dinner co-ops in the Estacada area.

She found resources about co-ops, but no local groups. So she decided to start her own.

Brinkley, 25, and her boyfriend, O'Neil McCord, are inviting other locals to create a vegetarian dinner co-op with them with hopes of kicking it off in the next couple months.

The vision is for several couples or roommates to participate, divvying up weekly cooking Monday through Friday. If five pairs sign up, that would mean cooking a meal for 10 one weekday and enjoying meals cooked by other co-op members the other four weekdays.

Brinkley said the co-op arrangements would depend on the number of group members, but ideally, participants would have five days worth of meals with the meal exchanges.

Depending on the group's preference, pairs could either transport the meals to fellow co-op members or select a central meeting location to exchange meals.

'In theory, it would cut down on food costs,' Brinkley said. 'You're cooking one meal for a group, which means buying more of the same ingredients versus a whole different variety of items, which can rack up a food bill.'

Brinkley, who has been a vegetarian for three months, views a vegetarian co-op as an opportunity to emphasize unprocessed foods and proper nutrition. She's always grown her own food and participates in the local farmers market.

Vegetarian fare offers a large variety of items, Brinkley said.

Brinkley, who attended Oregon Culinary Institute, plans to open Currinsville Store, located on the edge of Estacada in the former Porky's Market and Pit location, with her mother, uncle and boyfriend in mid-August.

The general store will include a bakery and coffee area -- Brinkley is a certified baker -- deli, and local beer and wine selection.

Those interested in a vegetarian co-op may call Brinkley at 503-807-4773 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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