Insti Food Survey 2022: General and Nutrition

Note: T5E’s Insti Food Survey 2022 was conducted in October to critique insti’s messes and eateries and assess the nutritional intake of students at IIT Madras. The survey had 543 responses.

This article focuses on nutritional intake and eating habits.

Insti vs. Home

From the survey, we observed that 7 out of 10 students eat more at home than in a mess. We also inquired about the reasons for the same, for which 89% of the respondents cited “poor food quality”, 43% blamed “hectic schedules,” and 22% stated “No guardians to monitor” as the reason.

Most Common Foods Consumed

The most common food consumed during breakfast is the main tiffin, such as dosas, idlis, paratha, khichdi, poha, etc., taken by 88% of the respondents.

60% of the respondents have eggs and bread; 33% take coffee to get their day up and running.

The most common food item for lunch is rice (81%) and phulka/chappati (78%), as expected. To go with it, curries and curd are also popular. Around 30% of the respondents buy mess extras during lunch.

Fruits and Vegetables

The fruits and Vegetable intake has decreased for all the respondents compared to at home. Around 70% eat fruits only when provided in a mess, and around 15% go out of their way to buy them from outside.

Around 70% of the respondents get their veggies from the mess. What’s concerning is that 18% of respondents do not consume vegetables most days!

Milk and Meat

Around 50% consume milk-based products daily, and about 11% don’t.

50% of non-vegetarians consume non-vegetarian food once or twice a week, and around 13% eat non-vegetarian food daily.

Any special requests/requirements?

We asked the junta for anything they wished was better or should be introduced in a mess, and we received some exciting responses.

Many demanded tasty (read edible) protein-rich food, vitamin & fiber-rich food, more fruits and spinach-based dishes. The mess menu may have been structured to supply a balanced diet, but bad taste and repetitiveness influence junta to forgo meals on some days. The lack of healthy eating options outside of the messes leads people to consume fast food.

Online Deliveries

Frequency of Online Orders:

Ordering online seemed to be a pretty popular habit among insti junta, with about 68 percent respondents reporting that they order online at least a few times a month. Unsurprisingly, about 36% of respondents said they ordered online on almost a weekly basis whereas only 11% reported that they never ordered online.

What would be the approximate cost per month you spend on online deliveries?:

An average of  Rs.2067.31 was reported to be spent on online orders every month by the respondents.

What meal does your order replace? 

Ordering food for dinner (80%) and to satisfy late night cravings (52%) seemed to be the most popular choice among junta. Ordering breakfast was reported to be the least popular choice (5.3%) – probably due to the insti culture of skipping breakfast altogether.

What does your order typically consist of?

Cheese-based products (like burgers or pizzas) (64%),  oil-based products (like noodles, fries or chicken) (50%) and Rice products (biryani, fried rice etc.) (66%) were reported to be the most ordered food items.  Although dessert items were also reported to have been ordered in considerable numbers- they were overshadowed by the savoury items. This possibly indicates that most people preferred to order a hearty meal online, rather than just desserts to supplement a meal.

Reasons for ordering food?

‘Tastier food’ (80%), ‘Change of pace from routine mess menus’(61%), and ‘No insti mess or eatery is open at that time’(50.5%) were reasons (in overwhelming numbers) given by the respondents to order online. This clearly shows a trend (compared to the previous question’s findings) of people disliking the routine, often tasteless, mess food and the associated short serving windows. It also highlights the need for more round-the-clock eateries in insti.

Which gender spends more?

Female respondents reported spending less (Rs.1759.04) than their male counterparts(Rs.2128.09) on online orders.  

Arun Palaniappan
Suraj Manickam

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