Food Services is a nearly 24-hour operation, made possible by more than 130 student employees and 17 full-time employees. Food Services is organized into catering, cashiering, hot food, cold food, bakery, and vending. Not only do Food Service employees work in the kitchen and the Crossroads, but they work in the MC Market, Freshens, and the two kiosks in the Ricks Building and the Snow Building.
Food Services Director Todd Huchendorf says the organization processes about a million retail transactions every year.
Positions in Food Services range from food production, to custodial, to cashiering. Six days a week, these employees work around the clock.
"We have people here 24 hours a day, except for Saturday night until Sunday night," said Huchendorf. "The bakery shifts are here overnight. Custodial workers will be completing their shift as the nighttime bakers who do most of the bread start. We'll have other bakers and students who work in the bakery come in around four in the morning. The majority of our staff comes in at six in the morning to have all of the food produced by 10 o'clock for lunch, so that it can be distributed to the locations that are going to serve it."
With a myriad of responsibilities, Food Services is a complex organization that functions on a variety of levels. The kitchen, itself, is sectioned off by hot food, cold preparation, and bakery. The process to produce everything, even for one event, is extensive, and each section is potentially responsible for multiple events at a time.
"The bakery may have forty events tomorrow," said Huchendorf. "If we look at their board, it's covered with event orders and specific information. The bakery takes their portion and they deal with that, and the cold side does theirs, and then the hot side cooks. Each event is broken up and segmented that way. Once the preparation is done, we then assemble customer-specific information and get the food to the location where it's served."
To accommodate the inherent demand that comes with the responsibility of feeding an entire campus, the kitchen is prepared for whatever may come its way. There are 33 refrigerators and 15 walk-in refrigerators. Collectively, the ovens can bake 674 pies at one time, and the staff can produce about 1,250 sandwiches in one hour. Food Services not only faces the challenge of approaching every need in a systematic way, but demographics unique to a predominantly-LDS college town generate a different kind of obstacle for management when it comes to pricing and demand.
"We service a very frugal demographic where quality is not the number one goal. It's generally quantity, something that will fill them up for a value price. Student price points are at about three dollars, so that's what they're wanting to pay. It's a challenge to find the right niche and how to serve the students best," said Huchendorf.
In addition to serving the price-conscious student, Food Services faces the predicament of a high turnover rate for student employees.
Spencer Stapp, Human Resources supervisor of Food Services, is in charge of the hiring, recruiting, orientation, training, and scheduling the implementation of new employees each semester. According to Stapp, having adequate time to train new hires before the semester starts is a challenge.
"When we train, we're working with such a limited time frame," said Stapp. "We have two days to train all new employees on what to do. For a normal business cycle, a turnover is about every one to two years, but we're doing a full turnover every 14 weeks. It makes it very challenging."
For some students, though, working in Food Services for consecutive semesters is ideal. Bonnie Molina is a student employee who has worked in the Crossroads as a dining room attendant since the Winter 2013 Semester.
"Working here in Food Services is a steady job, and your hours are laid out for you," said Molina. "At another restaurant, they may change your hours every week, but here the hours are reliable and consistent. If you stick with it longer than one semester, it really benefits you in the long run. Even after two semesters, having those steady hours and being able to build relationships with managers and coworkers is such a blessing."
Food Services is an incredibly busy and complex operation, one that gives employees the chance to work in a fast-paced environment while developing relationships with people from all walks of life.
"I love meeting new people, and I can't walk around campus without seeing somebody that I know who I've met through my job," said Stapp. "Everyone has a different story, a different background. Getting to meet people and having the opportunity to know them, whether it's during training or throughout the semester, is great. The human element of it all is what I really enjoy."