USM to maintain cost of food at university cafeteria

GEORGE TOWN: Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) will work with all those necessary to ensure the price of food items sold at the university premises are maintained.

The bodies involved are the Student Representatives' Council (MPP), Desasiswa Residents' Council (MPD), cafeteria operators and the Desasiswa Heads' Council.

According to USM deputy vice-chancellor (Student Development Affairs and Alumni), Professor Dr Azlinda Azman, USM continually monitors prices of items sold and seeks feedback from students regarding the matter.

"We are aware that many of the local students are in the B40 bracket, and are the ones highly affected from the rising cost of food items on campus, which is why the university has imposed a ceiling price and conducts continuous checks," she said today.

Azlinda said the Office of Student Development Affairs and Alumni (HEPA) had also met the MPP and MPD, as well as the Desasiswa Heads, who are directly involved in student affairs on campus.

"USM is truly appreciative and thankful to the MPP, MPD and the cafetaria operators who are working closely with the university in dealing with this issue. The cafeteria operators have given their commitment to not raise prices irresponsibly, which then could affect the students.

'The campus cafetarias have also taken measures to sell food at reasonable prices, to assist students in dealing with the issue," she said.

She said one initiative taken was to introduce the 'economy' menu at all student residences' cafeteria in USM at the price of RM5.00. The dish offers students white rice, vegetables, fish/chicken and gravy/chilli condiment or paste.

She added that USM would also introduce the 'Plastic-Free Cafes' move at all student residences' cafeterias in USM on Aug 1. The initiative was launched at Desasiswa Saujana on June 30.

She explained that with the reduction in the cost of purchasing plastic items used as food containers, cups for drinks, straws and plastic bags, the cafeteria operators would work together with university authorities to prepare meals and drinks at reasonable prices.

"USM too, is promoting the practice of bringing personal food and drink containers as well as using reusable bags every time meals are bought from the cafeteria.

"At the same time, USM is also making it a norm to use personal-use metal straws when buying drinks at the cafeteria," said Azlinda.

Yesterday, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad had said that campus food stall operators at public institutions of higher learning (IPTA) would be given a rent moratorium for six months beginning this month.

She had said that the move was to lower the operating cost of the food operators so that they could maintain the prices of food sold to students in view of the rising prices of goods.

She had also announced a quality food menu at a ceiling price of RM3.50 for each order under the Keluarga Malaysia Student Food Basket initiative, in line with the announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Ismail Sabri yesterday said that the government would roll out the Keluarga Malaysia Menu at cooperative restaurants, cafeterias as well as food outlets at public universities as an alternative for target groups to obtain meals at an affordable cost.

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