The Ministry of Education has ordered all universities to
stabilize the price of meals served in their canteens in the wake
of recent hikes in food prices.
The average price of a dish served up in a university canteen in
Beijing, Wuhan and Guangzhou has increased by 0.1 yuan (1.3 cents)
to one yuan (13 cents).
Some students from Beijing University are even choosing to dine
on campus at the neighboring Tsinghua University, which is
currently dishing out cheaper meals.
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 higher education institutions.
"Universities and colleges across the country must stabilize
canteen food prices, adjust the type of food available without
compromising nutritional value and ensure the supply of low-price
food," said ministry spokesman Wang Xuming.
"College canteens should reduce waste and cost," he continued,
warning college officials not to treat the situation as "a petty
issue of food and drink".
"It is very important for universities to "budget carefully" at
this time," said Wang.
Wang urged universities to sign meat supply contracts directly
with food processing plants to reduce costs but Wu Lan, director of
the Beijing universities joint food purchasing center, believes
this is not enough to solve the problem.
"Although most universities in Beijing purchase food together in
bulk which guarantees a low price, the overall market price has
risen sharply and even universities that jointly purchase food in
wholesale cannot escape the surging price," Wu told the Beijing
(Xinhua News Agency September 4, 2007)