Janet Erickson '80 Food & Nutrition

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Janet Erickson claimed her degree in food and nutrition in 1980. Since then, she has managed quality assurance, procurement and distribution management through supply chains for several restaurant corporations. Most people outside the food business didn’t know what a supply chain was. Then, COVID-19 came along.

A food supply chain refers to the multiple steps that move food from the farm to the kitchen table. The economic shutdowns during the pandemic resulted in nationwide shortages and delivery delays.

“The restaurant industry is dynamic, but the supply chain is at the core of everything,” Erickson says. “COVID-19 was a wake-up call for the CEOs, who are realizing the importance of having a strong supply chain team.”

Erickson credits her parents for encouraging her and her two sisters to have careers, and Cal Poly Pomona for preparing her to thrive in the working world.

“Our parents raised us to believe we were capable of doing whatever we set our minds to do,” she says. “There was more talk of careers than in marrying and having children. As an adult, I realized my upbringing wasn’t typical for girls at that time.”

A course series on quantity food production, taught by Ruthanna A. Davis, had the biggest impact on her, Erickson recalls

“We had to design a blueprint for a food production facility, including everything from equipment to the menu,” she says. “I still have the blueprint.”

Erickson has worked for Denny’s Restaurants, Carl Karcher Enterprises, Del Taco and Brinker International, and has been active in national restaurants and produce marketing groups.

“I didn’t realize when I was starting out that women didn’t have the same prospects for advancement as men, and I am proud of what I accomplished,” she says. That includes becoming the first female chair of the Produce Marketing Association in 2006.

When Erickson retired, she and her husband moved to Hayden, Idaho, and started the 48 North Supply Chain Consulting business.

Her advice to current students?

“Work hard and ask good questions; college is where you start to learn who you are going to be.”