The Taste of the Mess - Mess Survey 2023
The Hall mess plays a pivotal role in ensuring that students receive nutritious meals, fostering a conducive environment for their academic pursuits. Providing safe and healthy food to the students is imperative to ensure a healthy student community on campus. At the same time it is equally important to assess the functioning of the messes and take feedback from students on their level of satisfaction.
Understanding the significance of this aspect, the Editorship conducted a Mess Survey to gather comprehensive feedback from students. ‘It serves as a valuable resource for hall management and authorities to make informed decisions, implement necessary changes, and enhance the overall quality of food services.’Here we bring to you a detailed analysis of the findings.
The survey focused on several key aspects of the hall mess, including food quality, menu variety, hygiene and cleanliness, staff behaviour, service efficiency, and overall satisfaction through a quantitative and qualitative study. Based on responses from 1050 students, the insights gathered through this survey are invaluable, as they help in understanding the needs, preferences, and expectations of students when it comes to their dining experience.
General Awareness on FMC and MMC
Food Monitoring Committee and Mess Monitoring Committee is a student body for Regulating and Monitoring Mess & Commercial Establishments in IIT Kharagpur. The FMC (Food Monitoring Committee) looks after the maintenance of eateries and restaurants in campus. MMC(Mess Monitoring Committee), under the aegis of HMC, is responsible for the up-keep of the hall messes and to handle all student grievances related to the same.
With the responses received, it necessarily highlights a certain lapse in the working of both committees.
Ratings were collected on several questions concerning the maintenance of the mess. The average rating was received on parameters including- the spaciousness of the Mess, cleanliness of the hand wash area, the presence of sufficient & quality hand wash and waste collection and disposal management.
However, ,31.4% and 25.9% of the responses rated “the availability of serving utensils” as poor and below average, respectively. The response on the cleanliness of serving utensils was equally alarming and unsatisfactory. Availability of clean drinking water is also a necessity, but the poor rating on the frequency of cleaning water coolers raises concern about this as well. One of the biggest grievances is the lack of avoidance of stray animals near the mess areas. The presence of these animals is highly unhygienic, and proper steps need to be taken for relocation.
A lot of recommendations on regular checks by authorities and wardens on mess have been made. Moreover, the inaccessibility and unaccountability of complaints/feedback from students need to be addressed.
Services and Workers
The survey results showed that the students are mostly happy with the mess staff and the mess timings, but they also expressed some concerns about the waiting time for food and the regularity of the mess checks. According to the survey, 67% of the students gave a rating of 4 or 5 to the hospitality and cleanliness of the mess staff, while only 23% gave a rating of 4 or 5 to the waiting time for food. This indicates that the messes are running at their maximum or more than their assigned capacity already and will remain a pressing concern till the facilities are not upgraded as per the updated strength after the arrival of the incoming batch on campus. Similarly, 62% of the students gave a rating of 4 or 5 to the mess timings, indicating that they are mostly satisfied with the timings of the mess; however, a few students reported that the administration could improve the status quo if some messes don't shut down for evening snacks at a particular day which currently happens for maintenance purposes. Mess duties have been allotted to ensure proper accountability and maintain quality standards in the messes, however it is a question whether it is properly followed or not. One of the most important feedback received is to formulate regular checking on all the messes by Hall Wardens and HMC officials -"Digital feedback and response methods must be followed and supervised by HMC regularly."
Food preparation and quality
This section of the mess survey discusses the offerings by the mess and its operation at the ground level. It discusses various aspects of the mess services and workers, such as the quality and supply of water and raw materials, the variety and taste of food, the hygiene and sufficiency of food, and the health effects of eating mess food.
The survey results show that the mess users have mixed feelings about some aspects of the mess but are unhappy with many others. Students have expressed mixed views about the quality of raw materials used in the mess. A significant number of students rated the quality as average (3/5) or poor (1/5). This trend is further reflected in the responses received for the perception of their health. Students' responses positively correlated with the quality of raw materials used in their respective halls. The hygiene of the mess kitchen area was found to be average. As per the responses, the students would prefer something other than the offerings on their menus and insist upon the diversity of food items, particularly reducing the number of potatoes served in the vegetable gravy. Many also highlighted that the initial servings offered in their mess need to be improved, which manifests into a bigger problem during lunch hours, specifically when there is a rush to attend the afternoon classes. It has been interestingly found that the vegetarian community in the campus is highly discontented with the quality and taste of the food more than the non -vegetarian community. As a result, the survey also found that most users eat outside often, indicating a lack of interest in messy food.
The assessment reveals a stark contrast between the mess Facilities of different halls of residence. While some halls, such as Radhakrishnan Hall of Residence, Patel Hall of Residence and Meghnad Sana Halled Residence, have excelled in providing quality food and hygiene to their boarders, others, such as Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya Hall of Residence and Homi Jehangir Bhabha Hall of Residence, have performed underwhelmingly. One of the main reason for this discrepancy is the insufficient capacity of the mess facilities to accommodate the large number of students living in the hall. This leads to overcrowding, long waiting times and poor sanitation in the cooking area. Moreover, as a common concern, the students are dissatisfied with the lack of variety and creativity in the menu, as well as the inadequate supervision and feedback mechanisms by the administration and student bodies. As a result, many students chose to skip their prepaid meats in the mess and eat outside at night canteens and restaurants which may have adverse effects on their health.
The suggestions received as part of the survey have been forwarded to the stakeholders. We believe that these concerns will be brought to the attention of the concerned authorities, and the required steps will be taken to resolve the issues in time. The statistics pertaining to the Mess Survey Report 2023 can be accessed through the following link:
In case of any further queries, feel free to reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
On a final parting note, we thank KGPians for their wholehearted support and participation in the survey and other endeavours we undertook throughout the past year. We have always strived to engage with the students and relevant stakeholders to bring impactful changes and improvements at the ground level. We are confident that the Editorship will carry forward this legacy and continue to work for the betterment of the students.
Nidam and Akansha
Editors, TSG (2022-2023)