The privilege to serve in the Commonwealth Games comes for a price.
About 22,000 volunteers, workers and almost an equal number of security personnel to be deployed at the venues will be forced to observe complete vegetarianism. Not just that, they would have to survive on simple food for almost a month — till the end of the event.
To cut costs, the Organising Committee (OC) has left out any semblance of gastronomical delight for the thousands running the Games from behind the scenes.
The vegetarian items, to be served cold in packets, cost about 120 per head per day — lunch or dinner alone costs R85. The caterers will supply 40,000 such packets every day.
In the enrolment forms, the OC had asked volunteers to indicate their food preferences. Sources said that an overwhelming number of volunteers appear to be non-vegetarians.
"Storing and serving non-vegetarian food in packaged form is difficult at the venues. So, we have opted for only vegetarian boxes. "But it won't be less tasty or less in variety," Sanjeev Mittal, director general in charge of catering at the venues told HT.
Now, the hundreds of performers, brought in from across the country for the opening and the closing ceremonies, might also have to eat the same food for about a month. The Ceremonies Functional Area — which has not yet decided on any food supplier for the Ceremonies team — is considering similar food option as it is economical.
But it's not as if the Games is all about simple eating.
At the same venues where the workforce will eat non-heated food in boxes, the VIPs, senior government officials, athletes and delegates will dig into a lavish spread at buffets.
"The menus at the lounges will be complete with vegetarian and a variety of non-vegetarian delicacies every day," said Ramesh Dang, head of Seven Seas Hospitality, the Delhi-based company that has won the biggest chunk of the venue-catering contract.
The Games Village, too, has an enviable platter with 13 varieties of meat items prepared in international styles.
During negotiations with the caterers the OC cut down several items from the menu for the workforce to bring the cost down. The contracts for catering at the venues were finalised last week for around 40 per cent of the original estimates.