By Beth Peralta
To call the University of Illinois Meat Sales Room a gem for Champaign-Urbana is truly an understatement. I had the opportunity to sit down with Chuck Stites, manager of the Sales Room, and learn more about this fantastic resource for our community that you will definitely want to take advantage of soon.
I entered the Sales Room on an off day and noted that it was spacious, with lots of room to look at the meat and egg cases. Yes, eggs, too! Eggs are nest run and available by the flat (30 eggs) in brown or white. According to the American Egg Board, nest run eggs are “packed as they come from the production facilities without having been washed, sized, and candled for quality.”
The Meat Sales Room is part of the University of Illinois College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences’ Department of Animal Sciences, and meat primarily comes from the beef, poultry, and swine farms that the department manages. The university’s poultry farms produce the eggs and have chickens that lay white and brown eggs. Farms use normal agricultural practices in their raising of animals.
Days and hours of service are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. According to Chuck, the busiest times of year used to be around the holiday season, but now it is fairly steady with customers year-round. There are many repeat customers each week who enjoy the variety and fresh products available. He did note that for parents who may need to come by with children should visit a little after opening – as the Sales Room tends to be busiest from 1-3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and you may have to wait a bit more at those times.
For those that are not familiar with campus, the Meat Sales Room is super easy to find and you do not have to encounter much traditional campus traffic. It is easy to reach off of Kirby/Florida avenues, located on Maryland Avenue right next to the cemetery and across from the baseball field. Parking is FREE for customers (you can leave your quarters at home!) on the south end of the building.
There is a lot of variety in the products offered – from steaks, chops, various sausages, and roasts. Chuck’s personal favorites include the chuck roast (how could it not?), fresh bratwurst, and sliced bacon. You can check out the whole price list and sign up for the delightful “Meat Mail” email list on their website here.
Let us know – have you tried any items from the Meat Sales Room in the past? What are your favorites?
(Full Disclosure: Author is an alumnus of the College of ACES and current employee with University of Illinois Extension).
Beth Peralta is a mother of two, wife, registered dietitian nutritionist, sometimes-runner, and coffee addict. She has been living in Champaign-Urbana nearly nonstop (minus 2 semesters of grad school and 3 summers) since 1998. Follow her on Twitter @simplybethP for assorted posts related to food, recipes, Illini, health, and more.