RU may turn to UGC to improve food options for students

As universities have opened their doors again following the long closure caused by the pandemic, and healthy lifestyles foremost in people’s minds, residential and non-residential students of Rajshahi University have raised concerns over the eating options available to them at one of the largest public universities in the country.

Even the chief medical officer at the university’s own medical centre has admitted meals served at the university’s dining centres fall short of providing the daily nutritious intake recommended for a person to lead a healthy life.

Students meanwhile allege they are being served food cooked in unhygienic conditions and even stale meals at the cafeterias and hall dinings.

Most of the residential students take their regular meals from their respective hall dinings. Sometimes they allege insects and other unhealthy items are found in the meals of hall dinings.

Earlier on the day of the admission test at the university, many students allegedly suffered from food poisoning after having food from the cafeteria.

Abdus Sabur Lotus, a 2nd-year student of Mass Communication and Journalism department of the university, told UNB that he suffered from food poisoning after having lunch at the central cafeteria.

Saifur Rahman, a student from the same department and Moin Uddin, a master’s student of Law department, alleged the same.

“A few days ago, I started feeling stomach pain after having a stale meal from the central cafeteria of the university. After having a little, I got a bad smell from the meal. Later, I suffered from food poisoning and I had to take treatment from Rajshahi Medical College Hospital,” Moin said.

Refuting the allegations stemming from the day of the admission test, the administrator of the central cafeteria Md Ariful Islam said they may have fallen sick due to meals taken elsewhere during the day.

“I asked them about medical support. They alleged that stale food was served but the cafeteria was opened on Oct 3 and the admission test started on Oct 4. So this is illogical that stale food was served at the cafeteria,” Ariful Islam responded.

He said around 2000 students ate from the cafeteria on that day, but only 5 of them complained.

“I talked to them after the incident and they said they also took meals from a few other places on that day. I myself take cafeteria meals everyday and I am trying my best to ensure the quality of the central cafeteria,” the administrator added.

University student advisor Md. Tareq Nur said they are monitoring to ensure better food quality without raising the price. He also suggested they may ask UGC for support.

“There is no subsidy given to the hall dinings. We will ask UGC to provide subsidy to the hall dinings and will make sure to solve the problem,” the advisor said.

Shaheed Suhrawardy Hall dining manager Md Lokman Hossain told UNB the prices fixed for lunch and dinner rate respectively at Tk24 and Tk18 are “not enough” to ensure better quality food for the students.

“There is no subsidy provided by the universities’ authority for the dining food. So, we try our best to provide the food according to the fixed meal rate,” Lokman said.

RU pro-vice-chancellor Professor Sultan Ul Islam Tipu said, “We started taking classes and examinations in all the departments (following Corona closure), now we will look at these matters like ensuring quality food. We will discuss this with the dining authorities and general students and solve this problem as early as possible.”

Dr. Tabibur Rahman, Chief Medical Officer of Rajshahi University Medical Centre, suggested residential students in particular should augment the meals from the cafeteria or dining services with eggs, date, homespun fruits, nuts, etc in order to boost their nutrution intake, as the regular meals from the dining halls don’t contain the nutritious content necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Source: United News of Bangladesh