The consumer price index hit a 10-year high of 5.6 percent in July, causing students to worry that their meal prices on campus would also go up.
Statistics showed that the average price of a dish served up in university cafeterias in Beijing, Wuhan and Guangzhou recently had increased by 0.1 yuan (1.3 cents) to one yuan (13 cents).
Some students from Peking University are even choosing to dine at neighboring Tsinghua University because the latter is currently maintaining cheaper meal prices.
Resources from Xinhua News Agency reported that the central government has earmarked an 8.44 million yuan allowance fund (US$1.055 million) for more than 600,000 college students from impoverished families in Guangxi Autonomous Region to cover two months' living expenses.
The Ministry of Education ordered all universities to stabilize their canteen meal prices in the wake of recent food price hikes.
The cost of keeping the canteen meal prices down will be borne by the universities and local governments, which have been told to increase subsidies to campus cafeterias.
Wang Xuming, a spokesman from the Ministry of Education, said: "Universities and colleges across the country must stabilize their food prices, adjust the type of food available without reducing the nutritional content and guarantee their supplies of low-priced food."
He suggested that college cafeterias reduce waste and cost and urged school officials to focus on the issue.
"Under current conditions, it is very important for universities to budget wisely," he added.
Wang advised colleges to sign meat supply contracts directly with food processing plants in order to reduce costs.
(China.org.cn by Wang Ke, September 11, 2007)