The rumor claiming that BYU has a three-month supply of food storage for all students is false. BYU Director of Dining Services Dean Wright has put the myth to rest.
“Dining Services is a business,” Wright said, “and we operate as any professional business operates. We do not have food storage for the BYU community.”
BYU does have emergency plans to use whatever food is on hand for those in need but that food is not considered long-term storage. The university does not have a food storage facility or supply set aside for emergencies.
“We work under the BYU emergency command to determine how to best allocate our resources,” Wright said. “Our No. 1 concern in a case of emergency is providing food for students that live in Helaman Halls because they don’t have kitchens. Our No. 2 priority is to feed the missionaries at the MTC who don’t have the ability to make food for themselves.”
Various ebbs and flows of normal circumstance cause Dining Services to always be looking for ways to better serve students and maintain a fresh food supply.
“Right now there is a shortage of frozen eggs,” Wright said. “We are also looking at making a larger-than-normal turkey purchase to hedge the pricing. We monitor things like that. That doesn’t mean we have a freezer full of these things. It’s all about alternatives.”
Ryan Rasmussen, emergency manager at BYU’s Risk Management Center, made it clear that personal preparedness an important principle for BYU students.
“We encourage all BYU students to be prepared with a 72-hour kit and a few days worth of food, water, medications and other needs that are specific to their situation,” he said. “I think one of the best things you could do is go to the church’s website for food storage.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a website dedicated to food storage and other topics such as emergency preparedness or welfare services to help members with their desires to be prepared and live a provident lifestyle.
Preparedness applies to any and all types of situations that could potentially afflict BYU students. Rasmussen mentioned that the principle and practice of preparedness is more important than the specific type of emergency.
“As far as natural disasters, I don’t know which one is more likely to happen,” Rasmussen said. “What I do know is that, in general, preparedness is not specific to the emergency. No matter what emergency we have we need food, shelter, clothing, the basic necessities of life.”
Not only does preparedness help the individual, but it also allows the individual to help others.
“When we ask people to be prepared,” Rasmussen said, “we are asking them to make sure they have the basic necessities that they need to sustain life and remain in a functioning state during an emergency. If they can function then they can be used to assist others and be a solution to the emergency situation.”
The church’s preparedness website offers options for students in terms of food storage items.
Studies from BYU’s Food Science Department provided the church with shelf life information it uses on its website and for food storage information. Currently, the food science department is working on determining the shelf life of a product called Fruit Drink Mix.
“The shelf life was determined in studies done here at BYU,” BYU professor of food sciences Oscar Pike said. “Church members have stored cans of dehydrated food for many years. We evaluated cans that had been stored up to thirty years.”
Food storage items are not always the best tasting or the most nutritious, but in a time of emergency those factors aren’t necessarily the most important thing to focus on for survival.
“Because most nutritional deficiencies develop over time,” Pike said, “the first concern is simply storing enough calories.”