Anyway enough about me, let us reel back into our usual topic of campus life. Now, you might wonder what does food has to do with the life in campus, well, ah- lot, people.
Food in campus means something completely different. Mainly because we cannot fulfill our usual cravings for Baskin Robin without ruining our budgets and because TGI is nowhere near our campus, plus we don’t have the luxury of savoring mummy’s home-cooked meal all that often now, we don’t eat for pleasure. We eat to fill our stomach and end our hunger. We eat for energy that we need to do our assignments and to fuel the late nights studying for tests and exams. Hence, the food we eat has to be nutritious, healthy and most importantly, clean.
It is indeed laudable that most of our higher learning institutions have food operators in the campus to facilitate this cause. They set up stalls, foodcourt, dining halls and even Starbucks (thank God) for our convenience. Save for the same price we still have to pay for our frappucino, we are very grateful.
But behind closed kitchen doors, many things happens that we may not know of, and I am not being overtly melodramatic here, trust me.
There are those who are taking advantage of our naivety and charged us exorbitant price for a simple meal; and then there are those with rotten hearts who serve us downright dirty meals, and yet we have no inkling about it. Poor us.
I, for one, had encountered this kind of irresponsible people for more times than I can count. There is this stall in the campus, run by a matronly looking makcik, who sells a variety of fried foodstuff to hungry students. Yes, no one can resist the smell of fried chicken and nuggets and fries, especially us students, we eat and live fast food. Trouble is this makcik’s version of fried chicken comes with extra toppings-flies maggot, and the sight of the dirty food, I tell you, is enough to motivate me to go on a hunger strike. Not only that, the chicken nuggets are stale, probably cooked over and over again with used cooking oil, and thus the excess oil are seeped back into the food, which rendered the nuggets yellow on the inside and too oily on the outside.
One day, I decided to play police with this makcik.
Me: Makcik, ayam goreng ni seketul berapa?
Makcik: 2 Ringgit seketul, dik, panas lagi, beli lah satu.
Me: Ni ada telur lalat banyak ni pon makcik boleh jual 2 ringgit seketul?
I asked her point blank. She looked embarrassed and gave me an apologetic smile. Rm2 for her fried chicken ? Think I’ll pass. The next day, I went to her stall again to do a follow up, yes, she is still selling the fried chicken with her extra toppings. Some people never learn.
Another case I would like to highlight happened in the dining hall, where we have our lunch. The dining hall was massive, with a kitchen area and enough room that a time, can sit 200 students. From my inspection, there were cooks who are puffing away as they stir our curries. Some cooks brought along with them their young children into the kitchen area, which of course posed potential hazards to the young ones if left unsupervised. The dining hall is buzzing with flies, and there are fly traps every corner we look. And because at the time, there is no other place for us to eat in the vicinity, we have to make do with what we have, regardless of its filthy condition. Things go awry when some of us end up with food poisoning and severe diarrhea once awhile, probably because of the flies, or maybe they did not clean the cockles in our ‘char kuey tiaw’ and ikan keli not properly cleaned before being cooked, or maybe… I chose not to elaborate. Nevertheless, that prompts the dining operators to immediately change their ways for fear that they will lose their job when the cleanliness inspector comes. But once the commotion was over, they were back to their old means of handling the dining hall, and it is driving us all insanely frustrated but utterly helpless.
Now, I know all of the readers out there are dying to know which campus I was talking about. I refuse to pinpoint that out because there is no use in pointing fingers right now, milk has been spilt. The crux of the matter is that this issue warrants serious and immediate action at the moment, so why ponder on past mistakes when there are still much to be fixed?
Although it is unclear where we should put the blame on, the campus authorities for not conducting strict screening before vendors are allowed to sell, or the food operators for not adhering to stringent guidelines when serving the students; I sincerely hope that all of us can find it in our hearts to be more considerate in what we do. Do not let our morality takes a backseat and be blinded by monetary benefits and profits alone. We can cheat the young ones, but we can’t cheat ourselves.