Providing affordable student housing since 1932

Food Stewards (FS)

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Food Steward (FS) Job Responsibilities

Food is what brings people together. It’s what truly unites us as a community, so get it right. There are savings to be had, and money to be wasted with this job so be careful. That said, this is one of the most rewarding and most fun jobs to be had because… you get to eat after! 😀 But with this power comes responsibility and your housemates are counting on you to not buy $1,000 of Oreos with their precious dollars…

  1. Budget
    1. Set the budget
    2. Keep to the budget
    3. Check the budget
  2. Order and Pay
    1. What: Poll and listen to members. Inventory.
    2. Where: Vendors
    3. How: Cash/check, credit card, account
    4. When: Work holiday & seasonally
  3. Communicate with my house: what could go wrong?
  4. Meal Planning
    1. Confer with cooks and/or menu-planners to find out what they need. Make sure that menus are planned at least 4 weeks at a time and at least 2 weeks in advance.
    2. Ensure nutrition. While nutrition is most immediately the concern of menu-planners, the FS should ensure that guff foods are not solely sugared-up cereals and fatty chips.
  5. Interim Food Purchasing (NEW 2022)
    1. Info from the Treasurers training here
    2. Last day to order is Monday August 15th

Budget for Food and Supplies

Set the Budget

  1. The Food Steward (FS) and the Treasurer (TR) usually work out a food budget together. They ought to confer first with their house members to find out how much meat or other costly foods the members want to eat and what sorts of guff food the house wants. Here is a sample budget. The budget is based on how many members there are and how much the house expects to spend per member.
  2. Refer to the budget of the previous term, including how successful the previous food budget was. Did the house get charged an assessment for overspending on food? Was the food of decent quality? Include a 2% safety factor over what you expect to spend because it’s better to over budget than to be under budget. Remember that if you spend less than you budget, house members will get a rebate; if you spend more, house members will get an assessment.
  3. Work with the treasurer to organize active spending tracking. Don’t wait till the end of the month or the next month to find out you’re over budget. Here’s a good example of how expenses could be tracked: Budget/Spending Tracking Fall 2016 – Winter 2017

Keep to the Budget

  1. The easiest way to know whether you are staying within budget is to divide the semester’s food budget into weekly allotments. If you know exactly how much you are allowed to spend per week, you will have no problem staying within budget.
  2. Keep track of how much money you spend on different food categories to help you predict what you will spend on them in the future. Keep track of how much money you have spent over-all and how much you have left to spend. It is normal to overspend the first month of ordering, so don’t be alarmed if you do.
  3. Don’t forget to think of the big-picture budget. Going over 1 week doesn’t necessarily mean you’re over budget if it’s because you had to bulk some large things that are lasting a while (ex. toilet paper that’ll last you the semester), but do plan appropriately.
  4. Tips for keeping your food costs down are
    1. Organize.
      1. Label shelves and food. Organized food storage makes keeping inventory infinitely easier. It also makes it easy for cooks to locate what they need for a meal. It’s imperative you stay organized for multiple reasons: it facilitates your ordering, allows you to budget, and can aid communication between FS, TR, and housemates. Spreadsheets can help this.
    2. Keep good inventory or here’s another sample inventory.
      1. The FS should always have a general idea of what food is in the house. They should inventory all the food supplies every week or so.
        1. “Trust no one,” says one long-serving FS. Unless you see the need for something yourself or have a good source telling you explicitly, you can’t be 100% sure that something’s actually [not] needed.
        2. Nobody will ever tell you buy staples, basic things our house should always have, so be sure that YOU are thinking about them all the time (bread, eggs, milk, frozen fruit for smoothies, bananas, oil, etc., etc., etc.)
        3. Try to mentally track consumption so you start getting an idea of how much of something to buy. Order histories can help this, too!
  5. Order in bulk and full crates.
    1. This can tremendously decrease your food costs. If you don’t think you could use a whole crate of onions on your own, try sharing them with another ICC house. And when you buy things in bulk–they cost more up-front but will save money in the longer run.
  6. Preserve your food.
    1. Lots of money can be lost through improper handling of food, which then spoils and is thrown out. Keep your cooks and members informed about proper food handling and about what foods have been ordered for their menus.

Check the Budget

  1. Save all of your receipts
  2. Enter information into the spreadsheet to check your purchases against the budget
  3. Check your ordering receipts against what was received
  4. Check your receipts against your statements: credit accounts, bank accounts, ICC transactions, and credit cards; it’s easy to make mistakes with the volume of charges we’re making.

Order Food and Supplies

What to Order

  1. Survey members: Poll members for allergies and food wishes. Here is Allergy Info. Here is a sample survey.
  2. Listen to member requests. Somewhere in the kitchen there should be a list where members can jot down foods they would like or that they notice as missing in the house. You might also want to give housemates some guidance about how they should make requests to you: on the list, email, office hours, but not just face-to-face.
  3. Plan, plan, plan what you’re going to buy and try to let the house see it before you order. It’s easy to miss things and the last thing the house needs is 60 bunches of cilantro, when maybe you were only trying to order 6!
  4. Keep a list or spreadsheet of staple items your house uses, and keep inventory of those items. This will decrease duplicate purchases and help keep your house from running short and having to make emergency runs to the store.
  5. Splitting orders.

Where and How to Order

  1. Vendors (see below for specifics): the ICC has negotiated with a number of vendors. If you regularly want to purchase from somewhere that’s not on our list, let us know.
  2. Getting food delivered:
    1. Be sure vendors have access to your house to make deliveries on the days you schedule deliveries.  If you can’t be sure someone will be home, you may be able to provide your door code for delivery.
    2. This also means having driveways clear of cars and/or snow.
    3. Check your orders when delivered – check every item before signing the receipt. A lot of times an item won’t be delivered off the truck at all, sometimes they’ll have it on the truck and will go back to get it for you.
    4. If an item isn’t delivered, you’ll need to follow up with the Vendor to either get credited for the purchase, or have it sent/picked up another time.
  3. Purchasing Food at the Store
    1. Think before you buy! Since it’s not bulk you should have in mind exactly what quantity you’ll need, especially if it’s for some special dinner.
    2. It’s good to make your own list separate from the list people gave.
    3. Double check what’s being purchased online and the timing of arrivals — minimize overlap if possible.
  4. Purchasing online
    1. When it comes to online ordering, if you have previous orders on hand you can just copy-paste repeat items instead of constantly searching for them.
  5. Zingerman’s bread is available free from one of the houses – it rotates, but be sure to Do it. Check the ICC slack channel – on the food trades channel – to see who’s got it this year. #foodtrade

When to Order

  1. Food and money waste can be a serious issue, so think about quantities and timing of purchases. (ex. Not a great idea to bulk order toilet paper during the last week of the Fall-Winter semester or to buy a bulk order of beets that’ll never get eaten).
  2. Work Holiday: coordinate food orders with other officers for increased savings on supplies.
  3. Also, here’s when you could consider organic/fair trade/conventional
  4. Review the seasonal food information. Some foods are much cheaper at certain times during the year. Some foods are not available at all during certain times. Seasonal foods cost less and provide more nutrition when they are most in season.
  5. This inventory sheet can be used to communicate kitchen and bathroom/cleaning supplies that are needed with the Kitchen Manager and the Work Manager. By combining orders for food with supplies and equipment, you can build larger orders and save money by having more purchasing options. Make sure they let you know if they update it.

Pay for Food and Supplies

  1. Cash/check – you’ll want to minimize the times you have to pay with cash, check, or get reimbursed with a check. As much as possible, use your house credit card or purchase on account.
  2. Credit – You’ll have a Citi Costco Visa card which can be used at Costco as well as anywhere else that Visa is accepted. Use it wisely!
  3. Charge – We have established charge accounts at a number of vendors, especially for Maintenance.
    1. For instructions on which maintenance vendors we have accounts with and how to use them, please refer to the charge accounts section of the maintenance website.
  4. The ICC has charge accounts for the following food vendors, as of 7/27/21:
    1. Barry’s Bagels, Calder Dairy, Frog Holler, and GFS. GFS is our primary charge account for food. You can charge both online and in-store purchases.

Communicate with Your House

  1. Why it’s important to communicate with your house: Food builds community. Even folks who are less present in daily house functions often come to dinner. It might incentivize members to be more involved! We own our homes and cooperate collectively for the mutual benefit of members. This includes food! With food purchased by the house EVERYONE should be able to consume it. And, It’s everyone’s $! As members of a cooperative we pool our money to purchase items that everyone can consume.
  2. Communicate to the house as much as needed – don’t be afraid to shoot an email/text/whatever if you have a question! Better to get it right then get it wrong!
    1. Slack channel – Create separate channels for food requests and cooks.
    2. House meetings – Perfect time to set the standards and limitations.
    3. House officers – Work with them. Talk to them. They are there to help!
  3. Here are some common issues that arise:
    1. When cooks don’t have all the ingredients for their recipes it may disrupt house dinners.
    2. Be sure to separate cooks’ food from GUFF food.
    3. Some folks may be upset when they put in a food request and it’s not purchased quickly/at all. Discuss expectations about availability and restocking.
    4. Expensive Food/Out of a product – You have the right to NOT purchase expensive/unsustainable products. Try to find similar products.
    5. Alcohol and drugs MAY NOT be purchased with house funds as per ICC standing rules.
    6. Guests eating food – Each house has their own guest policy. You are responsible for your own guests. They are not paying for the food.
    7. Running Low – Hold housemates accountable to communicate to you when a bulk item is running low. Also, check supplies weekly.
    8. The House Card – You hold a lot of power with the house card. Do not abuse it, do not give it out, and respect your position.

Manage Food and Meals

  1. Supercook is a great website where you can add all of the ingredients in your kitchen and it’ll show you what you can make – we can usually make 15,000+ using only the ingredients in our kitchen. You can set up an account with the FS email that the house can access.
  2. What can be frozen:
    1. Tortillas
    2. Bread (esp. Zingerman’s)
    3. Daiya
    4. Coffee
    5. Earth balance
    6. Tofu
    7. Tempeh


Barry’s Bagels


One time orders can be placed over the phone or online. To see what bagels are available, you can check their menu on their website.

Generally, the flavors available are as follows:

Assorted, Asiago, Cheese, Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, Cranberry, Egg, Everything, Garlic, Honey Wheat, Onion, Plain, Poppy Pumpernickel, Raisin, Salt, Sesame, Spinach Feta, Sunny Grain, Tomato Herb, Vanilla Cinnamon.

To set up a recurring order that gets delivered to your house, you will have to call. Their number is 734/662-2435. There is a 3 dozen delivery minimum. Pay using your house card.

Calder Dairy


Calder Dairy is a local farm that offers home delivery of grass fed cow’s milk, butter, and vegetarian-fed eggs, as well as local bread and other products.

You can place orders here. If there are any kinks, visit this page or call 313/381-8858. We have set-up online user accounts for all houses, so there is no need to input any kind of payment information. Calder Dairy has no minimum for delivery but does charge $3.


  • Utilize the standing order option.
  • Don’t forget to leave your glass bottles in front of your house the night before delivery so that Calder can pick them up. If you forget you may receive a charge for the bottles.



Costco is great for moderately bulk items and moderately bulk cleaning supplies. However, you should get cleaning supplies for work holiday / the dish sanitizer through GFS.

The membership card will allow you to purchase at Costco, but you will still need to use a personal Visa card for payment or pay with house checks, (for the interim). Be sure to submit your receipt for reimbursement or reconciliation.

You can purchase online as well as in the store once you’ve set up your account.

Detroit Cutlery


Detroit Cutlery knife sharpening service. This service has been set up automatically for most houses; if your house doesn’t receive this service and would like to, reach out to Geoff at to set it up. They help keep our knives in good condition – remember: a dull blade is more dangerous to use than a sharp one!

Frog Holler/Preferred Produce


Frog Holler is great for large houses. Huge catalogue with lots of variety. Delivery minimum is $100. Frog Holler also offers produce and dairy.

Frog Holler is now associated with Preferred Produce, so you log into their online system – instructions here.

We have established an account for each house which will bill the ICC directly.

Please place orders Online by 10:00PM, and call-in orders by 8:00PM (you can add on to your existing order until midnight). Orders received after the cut-off cannot be guaranteed next day delivery. $150 minimum delivery, and they deliver six days/week.You should have your house’s login info, but if not, reach out to a previous food steward or

Gordon Food Service


This is the primary food and supplies vendor for most houses.  They have pretty much everything you could want. Each of the houses have access to a full GFS online ordering system.  Any online order over $500 can be delivered directly to the house.  Any online order below $500 can be picked up from the Liberty (2151 W Liberty) or Carpenter (3800 Carpenter) location – you choose when you place your order (these are the two AA stores).

You can also use your account to purchase off-the-shelves, but they generally have less selection of items. Any purchases picked up in store will need to be purchased using your store card mobile ID, accessed through your online account. This is a barcode that serves as your charge card.  (You do NOT need to use your personal or house credit card – in fact, you shouldn’t, since the discount we negotiated won’t be applied.)

We get most of our kitchen / cleaning / work holiday supplies through GFS; if you go to the kitchen management section of the maintenance website, you can find product codes that will tell you exactly what you need to buy.

For more detailed information about how to use GFS’s online ordering system, please refer to the following tutorials:

  1. GFS User Guide – Online Ordering
  2. GFS User Guide – How to Create Item Lists
  3. GFS – How To Set Up Text Alerts for Orders
  4. GFS – How To Access Your Store Card Mobile ID

You should have your house’s login info, but if not, reach out to a previous food steward or

Cleaning supplies

Storage containers


  • The clear containers are best for foods that need to be seen without opening the containers, like guff foods and leftovers. They are the polycarbonate containers on the list. The square ones work best for storage in the cooler.
  • The white and translucent containers are best for storing foods that should be kept from light, like beans and grains. The translucent containers are the most commonly purchased since they block some light, but the product inside can still be made out. These polyethelene and polypropylene containers tend to last longer than the clear containers.
  • If you are a member of the ICC, half of the cost is generally covered by them. Pre-authorization is required.
  • Most houses also don’t need an entire case, so going in on orders together is very common.
  • There are more containers available than listed here. You can view all of them by typing storage container in the catalog search bar on the GFS web site.


Rosewood Farms is a local tofu maker that also distributes dairy products, vegetarian / vegan products, and food staples. They have a lot of specialty foods that help keep plant based co-opers happy. You can call to place an order at 734-665-2222. Say you’re from the ICC and give them your house name and address and they’ll bill us directly – you shouldn’t need to give them payment information.

Other Vendors

  1. You may also purchase food and supplies from any vendor using your house checkbook or using a personal credit card and applying for reimbursement with the receipts.  Your house treasurer can help you with both of these processes.
  2. For instructions on which maintenance vendors we have accounts with and how to use them, please refer to the charge accounts section of the maintenance website.

Member Roles

Food Steward

Ideally the FS oversees all aspects of food and meal management, making sure that all officers and members know their duties and are performing them adequately. The FS’s personal duties include ordering food that the cooks need, making sure that the house is well-stocked with spices, bulk foods, guff foods, and other staples, delegating food preparation, orienting cooks to the kitchen, and educating members about proper food handling and storage through orientation and signs. The FS must develop a working system for separating guff and non-guff foods. The FS needs to keep their eyes open at all times for poor performance in food matters. They should respond to any member complaints regarding food and relay the complaint to the proper member of the food and kitchen management team.

Menu Planner

Menu-planners must ensure that meals are nutritious and varied. They must also ensure that recipes are submitted to the FS in time for him/her to order necessary ingredients. See following pages for menu­ planning guidelines.


Cooks must prepare appetizing meals and have them ready on time. They must be educated about proper nutrition and know how to handle foods properly. They must know whether any members in their house are vegetarian or vegan and cook appropriate meal options for anyone with special dietary concerns. They must ensure that all prep work gets done (e.g. defrosting meat or soaking beans). See following pages for cook guidelines.

Work Manager

Work manager must assign competent house members to the task of cooking meals. Cooks must be held to the same standards as other house laborers regarding poor performance, which includes unexplained late meals or repeated unsatisfactory meals.


Members need to be educated about proper food handling and storage. All members performing kitchen-related labor must understand the importance of following health regulations. They must let the cooks and menu­ planners know whether or not the meals are meeting their needs. They must respect the difference between guff and non-guff foods.

Menu-Planning for Food Stewards, Cooks, & Menu Planners

Whether the FS or a designated menu-planner plans the meals, menu-planning should involve the cooks. Most people are happier to cook recipes of their own choice than recipes assigned them by someone else. Menu-planners must offer members varied and nutritious meals. Providing healthy and good food is one of the ways in which co-ops offer a higher standard of living for their members.

Menu planners must confer with the members to find out about food preferences and special dietary needs, whether based on health concerns, religious beliefs, social concerns, or anything else. The menus should reflect the general eating desires of the members, and each meal must accommodate the diet concerns of each member.

Menus must be planned at least 2 weeks in advance, and at least 4 weeks should be planned at once.


Every meal must be balanced, that is, include food in each of the food groups and in the correct proportions. The following materials will tell you how many servings a person should eat daily of each food group. They also tell you what constitutes a serving in each of the different food groups. Meals need not provide all of the recommended servings of each food (people eat throughout the day, not just at the communal cooked meal); however, the meals should reflect the recommended- proportions between the foods, for example each meal should have more grain than meat, more vegetables than dairy, etc.


As a cook, your primary responsibilities are the timely and appetizing preparation of the recipes you are given. Your duties include the following:

  • Submit a menu to the Food Steward at least two weeks in advance!
  • Read menus and recipes completely through before you prepare to cook. Be familiar with all kitchen equipment.
  • Know all pertinent health regulations and follow them. Be aware while cooking.
  • Cooperate and guide your co-workers in the kitchen. Serve meals at the allotted times.
  • Be Punctual. The members of your house are counting on you to feed them. They have been known to become mildly insane when their stomachs begin to growl.
  • Check your ingredients twenty-four hours before you start cooking.
  • Maintain an appearance appropriate to health codes.
  • Wash your hands constantly while cooking.
  • Wear hair controlled and pulled away from the face.
  • Use left-overs when possible.
  • Use oldest ingredients or opened condiments first.
  • Improvise to overcome unforeseen difficulties.
  • Note suggestions for menu changes and give to your menu-planner or save for future reference.

What Counts as a Serving

Breads, Cereals, Rice, and Pastas

  • 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked cereal
  • 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal


  • 1/2 cup chopped raw or cooked vegetables
  • 1 cup of leafy raw vegetables


  • 1 piece of fruit or melon wedge
  • 3/4 cup of juice
  • 1/2 cup of canned fruit
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit

Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese

  • 1 cup of milk or yogurt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of cheese

Meat, Poultry, Fish, and Legumes

  • 2 1/2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked beans
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons peanut butter

Vegetarian Cooking

Vegetarian meals will probably be a big part of co-op dining. Many co­ opers are vegetarians, and food costs can be kept down by limiting the use of meat. Meat is virtually the only source of complete protein, but vegetarian foods, if served in proper combinations, can create a meal which provides complete protein. The most important foods in attaining vegetarian complete proteins are rich grains combined with legumes. (See table of legumes below in case you are wondering: “What is a legume?”)

Dairy can replace a legume, but dairy products are often high in fat and should not be used often. Some vegetables can replace grains, but you should be sure that the vegetable is a significant part of the recipe. If a dairy product or a legume is combined with a grain product or substantial vegetable, the combination equals a complete protein. Rice and beans; spinach and eggs, lentils and corn; tofu and rice are examples of complete proteins.

Most vegetarians will eat no meat but will eat other animal products, such as butter, milk, eggs, etc. Vegans, on the other hand, will not eat any animal products whatsoever, including milk, cheese, eggs, gelatin, and even honey. For processed foods, check to see whether they contain any animal products. Vegans have a right to know whether or not a meal fits into their dietary restrictions. lf there are any vegans or vegetarians living or boarding at your house YOU MUST PROVIDE VEGETARIANS WITH A MENU OPTION AT EVERY MEAL. Vegetarian options mean a balanced vegetarian meal, not simply a meat entree without the meat.


Menus should be varied and appropriate to the season. During summer, you can take advantage of all the seasonal fruits and vegetables. During winter, soups/stews/chilis are a great idea along with hot fresh bread and small salad. Ethnic meals by cooks who know how to prepare them are always popular. Brighten up plain meals with a colorful side dish or a dessert. Make sure meals are not all beige. Don’t forget to serve fresh vegetables often. Avoid unpopular meals.

The following lists can help to plan meals. A complete meal item combined with a vegetable constitutes a full meal. A grain-based course combined with a legume/dairy/meat-based course and served with a vegetable also constitutes a full meal. Soups should be served with bread. Don’t forget occasional desserts. Many of these are meal staples, and the ingredients can be kept on hand at all times–this can be especially useful if a cook neglects to submit a menu!

Complete Meal

(coupled with a vegetable, these dishes constitute a full balanced meal)

  • beef or mushroom stroganoff
  • corn or potato chowder
  • eggplant parmesan
  • fettuccine alfredo
  • lentil stew jambalaya
  • meat or veggie lasagna
  • minestrone
  • pizza with vegetables or meat
  • spaghetti with meatballs or tofu
  • spinach or meat pie
  • tamale pie
  • tofu/chicken/beef stir-fry over rice
  • turkey with stuffing

Vegetable Course

(must be served with every meal, either a complete meal dish or a combo of legume and grain courses)

  • antipasto
  • broccoli and corn
  • carrot salad
  • cole slaw
  • cucumber salad
  • gazpacho soup
  • Greek salad
  • mixed cooked veggies
  • squash
  • tossed green salad

Grain-based Course

(must be combined with a legume/dairy/meat and a vegetable to constitute a full balanced meal)

  • macaroni salad
  • mashed/baked/fried  potatoes
  • pasta
  • potato salad
  • rice/rice pilaf/Spanish rice
  • spanakopita or spinach pie
  • tabouli salad
  • vegetable curry over rice

Legume/Dairy/Meat Course

(must be combined with a grain course and a vegetable to constitute a full balanced meal)

  • black bean or lentil soup
  • broccoli cheese soup
  • burgers, beef, tempeh, tofu, veggie
  • burritos, bean, beef, chicken
  • chicken, baked/grilled/barbecued
  • frittata or quiche
  • hummus/falafel
  • omelette
  • pea soup
  • steaks or portobellos, roasted or grilled
  • three-bean salad