To fulfil our daily appetite, our halls have mess services. Though it is one of the basic amenities, yet it remains consistent as one of the controversial issues pertaining to the campus for years. We have been waiting for changes to come but the administration seems frozen on this matter. To raise voice against this ignorance, we, being the media body of IIT KGP, conducted a survey titled “MESS SURVEY 2018” amongst the students in order to have a detailed analysis of the mess services, and the year-long grievances of students regarding the same. Here we bring to you a detailed report of the responses, the problems faced by the student community and the authorities, the reason we lag behind other similar institutions and the possible solutions we can look for. Access to fresh and healthy food is our right, vital for our health and ultimately for life itself. But the problem arises when you have to start thinking often whether is it actually good for you?
Based upon 864 responses to the survey, we came across several points where the students stand united against an unfit or an unpleasant condition but still, the problem revolves around us. Let’s have a look at some of those aspects in which students were quite prejudiced. Food is one of the most important need, students have taken part actively in giving reviews and suggesting changes for the betterment of the present system.
FMC and MMC — The masked body of IIT KGP!
With the motto of “With us, You will get Safe Food”, the Mess Monitoring and Food Monitoring Committee aims to maintain the quality the food and hygiene conditions of mess and canteens in the campus promising us a healthy satisfaction to our appetite. Now the question comes whether they were able to fulfil their promises and if yes, then how far?
Well, regrettably, the survey shows statistics claiming FMC, MMC has failed to deliver according to their promises and motto.
When more than half of the students taking the survey never even heard about the existence of the body which was established in 2011, this clearly questions their efficiency and the efforts they have put in.
Role of the body
Both the student bodies works under the guidance of the Dean of Student Affairs of the Institute heading the committee. Vice President, Technology Students Gymkhana acts as an Ex-Officio Student Head. Inspection of the mess of all the halls of residence comes under Mess Monitoring Committee and the eateries under Food Monitoring Committee.
When a body works under the Dean of Student Affairs, what exactly is the role of the body and possible reasons for the gap?
Well to be very precise, the role of the body is quite simple and can be easily concise in this work cycle.
Both the bodies enjoy full authority to inspect a mess or an eatery anytime during a semester and inputs from them have to be considered while introducing changes in the functioning of the mess and canteens and every change introduced has to be communicated to the body by the concerned warden of the hall in case of a mess and the concerned manager for an eatery.
The committee has the power to hold the authorities responsible for their inefficiencies in implementing the policies and decisions taken in the forum meetings.
When you work for the society for a cause, one has to be an active member in that society to bring out the actual problems faced. The same goes for a student body like FMC and MMC.
It’s very unfortunate for a body enjoying such powers and jurisdiction to lag behind to a considerable extent and to not being active in raising the voices of fellow students.
Possible reasons for the inefficient working of the FMC and MMC may be:
- The student body is still not fully independent and has to depend on the higher authorities to take actions.
- They don’t have an independent complaint portal i.e. they are still far away from our grievances and problems.
- FMC and MMC have the powers and jurisdiction for inspection, rather they should enjoy enough freedom to act against the careless and inadequate behaviour during an inspection if found.
- They should not just be preparing reports and giving consent to the policies made by the authorities, but also act and raise their own voices and concerns.
- FMC and MMC, both the bodies are very inactive in the community.
With an organised and methodical working of both the bodies, then the problems can be solved in a more efficient and productive way.
Suggestions/opinions regarding mess issues
- ANIMALS IN MESS-Numerous complaints have been received about the presence of animals in the mess. With a large number of students feeding them, the presence of animals has led to rising concern about the level of hygiene in the mess.
- CANTEENS- A vast disparity is felt between the quality mess and canteen food. Food is often found overpriced and the shortage of canteens which cater to both the genders is also an area of concern.
- FMC and MMC- With a majority of the students unaware of its presence points out its unpopularity among students. More surprise visits to mess and establishment of an independent complaint portal can certainly help raise and solve the grievances.
- STUDENTS- More power and autonomy must be given to GSec mess and the students on mess duty as they can act as an effective check on the quality of food served.
- Security and hygiene- CCTV cameras could be installed so as to ensure more transparency and an effective check on mess workers and officials.
Grievances of the General Secretaries, Mess
As said, the one who deals with the problem closely has the best knowledge about it. Following our regular survey, we requested the General Secretaries, Mess of different halls to reflect upon the current situation and put forward their valuable suggestions via a google form.
Here are some of the problems that they observed which should be dealt with.
- The continuous decrease in the number of glass and spoons is one of the problems faced by the halls. The number of spoons and glasses goes on decreasing making it a point of concern for everyone. We file complaints, expect authorities to take action against an issue but we should also be responsible and honest towards our duties.
- Performing Mess duty- Students need to understand the importance of performing the mess duty, we are also a part of it and students have to actively take part in it.
- Cleanliness — Strict rules have to be made for the halls to follow and failing to which strict action should be taken by the authorities. A number of people have already complained about the cleanliness of plates and utensils. In most of the halls, the mess workers don’t wear gloves and hair net which is very unhygienic.
- Animals in mess — It looks very filthy and disgusting to see animals around when you are eating. It is shameful that no action has been taken to solve this issue. HMC needs to participate effectively in relocating the animals.
Comparing different halls
When we look at the quality of served food in the halls, many seemed unhappy with it. Quality of the food being served in different halls of the same institute should either be the same or can have a little difference between them. But that’s not the case in IIT KGP. Let us demonstrate what we found in our survey. Bringing upon is the feedback we received from some of the halls. Let’s have a comparison between the qualities of food being served in the halls listed below.
One can easily find out a great contrast between the food served in both the halls. It was very heartbreaking to discover that out of 159 students of LBS who filled the survey, only one student found the quality of food as good. While in RK hall nearly half of the students (46.38%) found it good. The same goes for other halls too. We are just showing the difference between some major halls for which we had a considerable number of responses in our survey. The inequality that persists among the students who pay almost the same mess fees to the institute is not at all acceptable.
Such a great disparity in the quality of food served between two halls of the same institute with the same amount of budget allocated is visible here is astonishing. Why are the borders of one hall more privileged than the others?
This is indeed one of the serious affairs of how the budget amount is being spent and the HMC authorities need to scrutinize it. We have the right to being served with a food that is at least of a satisfactory level for the majority.
Comparing IIT KGP with other IITs
One cannot judge oneself unless until there are any parameters of comparison. These comparisons could depict the picture of the current system and how much efficient and effective it is when compared to others. So here is the comparison between the conditions of mess and canteen of IIT Kgp with that of IIT Roorkee and IIT Kanpur.
- The mess of IIT Kgp lacks in the domain of its management and maintenance. IIT Roorkee and IIT Kanpur have the well maintained Student Council who regularly looks after the working of the mess, resolves all the issues. However, there are some active hostel pages on Facebook for every hostel through which anyone can easily post complaints or can directly approach the respective secretary and can easily get the solutions for their problems.
- Moreover, a lot of new initiatives like privatization of the mess, the formation of active mess committee under the General Secretary is on the verge of completion. The privatization of mess improves the quality by increasing competition between the contracting bodies during tendering.
- IIT Roorkee has a student made Application called Appetizer which espouses the menu, complaint portal, as well as the option to skip meals for efficient utilization of rations as well as reimbursement from the mess fee that students pay. IIT Kharagpur lags far behind in combining mess problems with any application trying to solve the issue.
Thus there is a great need for improvement in the mess of IIT KGP from the way how it is managed, maintained to the way how it issues can be resolved. Certain steps need to be taken to improve the quality of food provided in the mess.
MESS DUTY: A necessity or just a mere formality!
Most of you may have come across a situation where you have been asked to perform mess duty once or twice in a year and you don’t actually have a clear knowledge regarding the responsibilities and powers of the student doing mess duty. One must always know his/her responsibilities while going for mess duty the next time.
Don’t worry, most of the students didn’t have a firm grip over this until they read this.
Responsibilities of mess duty student and the importance of mess duty:
1. To check both the quality and quantity (weight or number) of the received supplies and then only accept the supplies into the store by signing the pink slips/register
2. To monitor the number of supplies taken from the store according to the quantity as mentioned in the mess menu register
3. To inspect the quality of food cooked
4. To ensure that the correct amount of food is served
5. To ensure that cleanliness and hygiene is maintained in the cooking area
6. To ensure food is served strictly according to the time
7. To report any misdoings by any mess worker to the General Secretary Mess of the respective hall
Powers and jurisdiction of the mess duty student:
The student performing mess duty has the powers to :
- return back the bad and expired supplies of food material
- taste the food cooked checking the quality, instructing the food workers accordingly
- go to the store and check the quantity and the quality of the stored food
Conducting surveys is one of the best and unbiased approach to decision-making. Don’t rely on “gut feelings” to make important decisions. One can collect unbiased survey data and develop sensible decisions based on analyzed results. The main goal of conducting the mess survey 2018 was to evoke discussion by uncovering the answers and comparing results.
We, as a media body, have penned down the issues faced by the majority of the students along with the possible solutions taken by the student community, General Secretaries Mess and the student body responsible to deal with these problems.
The article is an effort to bridge the gap between G.Sec Mess, the boarders and other mess related issues in the campus. As a solution can come from any end, raising issues and uncovering the problems faced can help the halls to actually deal with them. Different halls which have faced the issue and have resolved it can come forward and help others.