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Student Experiences

Feeding the Fishers of Men

Changing the missionary age infused excitement and opened doors for many new opportunities. It also created a few challenges. One of these challenges at the Provo MTC was how to prepare and serve as many as 10,000 more meals a day.

Two male missionaries

That’s where a team of returned missionaries—who are also Executive MBA students—stepped in to help.

Drawing on their professional work experience (thirteen years on average) and management course work, a team of five students gave the MTC the tools needed to multiply the loaves and fishes.

One recommendation was to add an assembly line to build parfaits, sandwiches, and lasagna. Another idea was to reduce the movement of food by preparing it on trays. Using trays for sandwiches cut the prep time by one hour and forty-three minutes per thousand sandwiches. The EMBA team also suggested improving communication by adding cross-functional meetings and utilizing text messaging, email, and message boards to reach employees. A Culinary Support Center Hall of Fame program was also proposed to help motivate the workforce, which consists mostly of students.

The team determined that serving time at the MTC could be dramatically reduced by eliminating bottlenecks. By consolidating side dishes and creating full-service salad bars, everyone could get their food faster. They also recommended assigning districts to pick up meals from the sack-meal facility, alleviating the demand in the main cafeteria.

To find these solutions, the students spent more than forty hours at BYU Dining Services’ Culinary Support Center—the university’s centralized food preparation facility—observing storage practices, watching meals being prepared, and interviewing dozens of employees.

“Seeing Dining Services’ operations was impressive,” says Tema Hunkin, one of the EMBAs assigned to the project. “We quickly realized the scope of the problem we were dealing with and jumped right in to identify solutions to the issues.”

Hunkin also had lunch at the MTC and clocked how long missionaries had to wait in line to get their food. With missionaries waiting between ten and twenty minutes, the team knew something would have to change.

After analyzing their findings, team members presented the changes to BYU Dining Services in preparation for the enormous surge of missionaries coming this summer. Grateful for the new insights, BYU Dining Services is looking forward to implementing many of the team’s recommendations.

“We knew we could count on our EMBA students to find solutions to help us meet this new demand,” says BYU Dining Services director Dean Wright. “We’re anxious to take good care of the missionaries and make sure they all get fed.”

“We have loved solving this problem,” Hunkin says. “It has been incredible applying the principles we’ve learned in the EMBA program while working to build the kingdom at the same time.”


Article written by Dylan Ellsworth