Food Truck Operations Intern Earns Midwest Student Employee of the Year

Zachary Perez poses with family as he accepts the MSU Student Employee of the Year award.
Published On: April 28, 2017

By Leah Ball

Each year, the MSU Department of Student Life recognizes outstanding student employees for their contributions to the university. At this year’s reception on April 13, Zachary Perez, an operations intern for the Eat at State ON-THE-GO Food Truck, was honored as the MSU Student Employee of the Year. In addition to receiving the university recognition, Perez was named state and regional Student Employee of the Year by the state of Michigan and the Midwest Association of Student Employment Administrators. “Walking into the Kellogg Center that evening, I had no idea,” he shared. “Everyone at the event could attest to the fact that I was clueless; I didn’t know my parents were there, and everything was a great surprise.”

Perez, who graduates in May with a degree in food industry management, has worked for the Food Truck since his sophomore year. He had the opportunity to complete a professional internship through the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, creating a great tie-in with his Culinary Services position. Through an inventory management project that he worked closely on, the Food Truck saved approximately $65,000 in food costs.

Makayla Mainhood, an operations intern for the Food Truck, was also nominated for the university-wide award. She has worked to regulate labor costs, establishing a new scheduling system and determining costs per person to produce commissary items and run the truck. In 2015-2016, a savings of $30,000 in labor costs resulted from operational changes. Mainhood was also recognized at the reception.

“I certainly don’t do things alone; I make sure to give credit to the team that’s behind me” said Jay Makowski, dining services manager, who oversees the Food Truck and commissary operations. “They did a lot to ensure that our accounts are in order and that we spend and save appropriately.”

“Getting into Culinary Services and helping in the test kitchen led me on a path to truly be successful,” Perez expressed. “It really helped me advance into a career and line up a full-time position for post-graduation.”

A National Student Employee of the Year will be selected based on institution nominations.