The University Record, February 13, 1996

Keeping the U well-fed keeps Food Stores busy

By Matthew Thorburn
News and Information Services

Feeding the University of Michigan is no simple task. To feed all the students, faculty and staff, University Food Stores would need a farm that raises 5,000 cows, 260,000 chickens, 5,000 pigs and 26,000 turkeys each year. And that doesn't even include the produce!

Every day Food Stores supplies residence halls, children's centers, the University Hospital, North Campus Commons, the Michigan Union and the Michigan League with all the meat, fresh produce and other edibles necessary to satisfy hungry stomachs. These supplies are delivered to each site three to four times each day, notes John P. Bogi, Food Stores warehouse manager. "At any time we can be delivering to any of 200 buildings on campus," he says.

Bogi emphasizes the freshness of the food delivered. And when he says "fresh," he means it. Food Stores senior produce buyer Erwin C. Nagel Jr. travels to the Detroit produce terminal every day to purchase the freshest fruits and veget ables available.

While Food Stores supplies food units for special events at the Union and the League, its major deliveries go to the residence halls and University Hospital. Gregory J. Irwin, Food Stores manager, notes the tough competition the residence halls face, going up against eateries such as Wendy's and Little Caesar's.

"We carry a lot of brand-name items because this is a brand name society," he says. "Especially cereals --- from Fruit Loops to Cheerios."

Serving food that tastes fresh is another challenge. "It's hard to serve hamburgers fresh off the grill to a thousand people in a residence hall," Irwin says. "but they're 84 percent lean --- the best you can get."

Here's a fun food fact: a year's worth of those hamburgers laid end to end would cover a 275-mile stretch!

In addition to their fresh meat and produce, Food Stores also has special temperature-controlled storage for other important edibles. These include the egg and cheese room, nut and spice room, and a room for cereals andpastas.

Another food fact: if you stacked all the ham sandwiches eaten at the University each year on top of one another, you would have a leaning tower of ham eight miles tall.

Also of curiosity at Food Stores is a scale used for weighing beef. At one time the football coaches also used the enormous scale to weigh in their players.

Working at Food Stores is a dynamic, fast-paced experience. A typical day? There aren't too many of those, but every day involves a continued commitment to keeping the University's collective appetite satisfied.

"When you're out of food, you need food," Bogi says. "It's a very demanding job." Still, he says, feeding the University is a job that is a lot of fun to do.

"We're a service organization," Irwin adds. "We take a lot of pride in the service we provide to our customers. We try to take care of their needs."