Recently a resident of a government-run students’ hostel in Chembur found a dead lizard in the food served by the canteen just when he sat to eat the food.
The quality and taste of the food served at the canteens in student hostels have been a keenly discussed issue in colleges. Around 10 city colleges including St Xavier’s (Dhobi Talao), Sophia College (Peddar Road), DG Ruparel College (Matunga), Wilson College (Charni Road), have hostel facilities available for students.
The food served at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) hostels became a matter of discussion at the recently-concluded campus elections as candidates, while seeking votes, promised better food. While students have often complained about bland food and unhygienic conditions in the canteens, colleges and hostel owners say they do not compromise with the health of students, especially when it comes to food.
“More than the menu, our focus is on the quality, and we have put in place a list of violations for which the mess contractors get fined. If the contractor uses brands not authorised by the hostel, he has to pay a fine,” said Soumyo Mukherji, dean, student affairs, IIT-B.
Another big hostel complex is at the Somaiya campus at Vidya Vihar. The hostel houses close to 1,000 students. “We have a certified external agency that conducts a food audit regularly and ensures that the quality of food is maintained. There have been times when contractors have been fired if they were found at fault,” said Vijay Joshi, principal of KJ Somaiya College.
The Kalina campus of University of Mumbai houses three women’s hostels, all three catered to by the same contractor. While authorities conduct regular checks at these hostel canteens, students say more needs to be done about the quality and taste of food. “Just providing food should not be the only focus here, we should also be provided with good food. Since we don’t have the option of cooking in our rooms, we have to depend on this food, the quality or the menu which hasn’t changed in a long time,” said a student.
The menu is much more varied at the new-age hostels that have mushroomed across the city, especially in the Juhu-Versova area. The hostels opened in buildings near colleges serve breakfast as well as lunch or dinner (depending on every student’s need) and are very particular about the quality of food. “We personally check the food before it is served. Complaints against food, if any, are taken up immediately and action is taken to ensure the children are fed good quality food,” said Chander Matta, owner of Bright Youth Hostel, Vile Parle.