How many students do you know who complain about hostel food in college? While institutes would like to provide students with healthy food, they do not want to compromise on its taste or variety. IIT Gandhinagar(IITGn) has brainstormed an idea to appeal to the taste buds of their students and also keep a check on the quality of food offered in the hostel mess. 

Mess caterers at IIT Gandhinagar will be indulging in an ongoing catering competition as a part of their daily job. This year, for the first time an IIT has sent out tenders notices for two mess caterers. While the existing caterer at the institute was hired last year during October on a one year extendable contract, the new caterer shall commenced service in the institute mess from next month. Both the caterers are expected to cook myriad varieties of food daily for the hostel students. Prof Jaison Manjaly, Student Affairs Dean, IITGn, says, “This idea was brought up by some institute faculty, students and our Director. The purpose of introducing such a system was to ensure higher quality and more variety of food for students.” This means that students at IITGn will not have to compromise with limited types of food everyday.

When students at IITGn initially heard about this competitive system, they thought it was a rumour. Ritika Jain, a first year MTech student, said, “I didn’t believe this news when to got to know about it. I thought it would be a temporary arrangement. But I realised that the institute is keen on making this a permanent system.” Some other students were also impressed by the initiative, as such arrangements are very rare to find in other institutes in India. A third year student at IITGn said, “When I lived in a coaching institute hostel during my JEE preparations, we were offered simple and light food at the mess with only a limited variety. Our warden usually told us to make peace with the quality of food. This is the first time an institute is asking us not to compromise.”

Through this new system, the caterers will now compete to attract a larger proportion of the student crowd to eat their food. Over time, this may indirectly lead to an improvement in the quality of food thus fulfilling the institute’s objective behind starting a dual catering system. According to Prof Manjaly, the institute is also planning to further implement an assessment system for the caterers. “We are planning to introduce a criteria wherein if any caterer fails to attract more than 20-25% of the student crowd by the end of the semester, then his contract will be terminated. This should help to toughen the competition,” he said. However, the 25% floor criteria is still being discussed and may be introduced by next month. 

As of now, the students are content with the increase in the choice of food available. However, it will be too early to gauge the improvement in quality until the next semester.

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