Thousands of Huye campus students trundle in and out of restaurants every day, and from the rampancy of campus gossip, stomachs are growling for healthier food. Considered healthy here is hygienic food containing all essential nutrients. Students are complaining bitterly about the ‘‘negligence’’ of restaurants. Clueless as to the reason for the complaints, The Kaminuza Star’s Nyirangendahimana dug for the root of the problem and its possible solution.
A few steps from the Huye campus are more than six restaurants, none seemingly better than the other. A student, who moving from Umucyo restaurant to Happiness restaurant remained unsatisfied said:
“Though unable to see and testify for the cleanliness of their kitchens, I can see that the food is unhealthy as I usually suffer from diarrhea.’’
Healthy food is an important prerequisite to effortless learning. It strengthens the body, aids the memory and overall enables information to be processed rapidly. When unclean, food accounts for different diseases that interfere with the learning process. I questioned the student for a possible cause for this supposed unhygienic food. To this, she mentioned, with great frustration, that by being cheap and close to school, these restaurants have left students with limited choice, and they know it.
This, however, does not release them of an obligation to provide healthy and properly cooked food. Sadly enough, some students have paid higher prices for the same unpleasant services. Other complaints include interminable queues, poor customer service, insufficient portions, and bland tasting food.
Students have experienced the professionalism of sophisticated city-center based restaurants, have seen the difference and thus can point out the problems.
Notwithstanding, there is a slight failure to acknowledge that restaurants differentiated by price will offer different products and services. In any case, students are requesting the minimum; healthy and tasty food worthy of the price they pay.
I had the opportunity to speak to a restaurant owner who requested that her anonymity be kept, and told that me they go out of their way to satisfy their customers; they offer affordable food even when market prices are high, and provide healthy and varied meals.
From what she said they ‘‘try to be considerate of student needs’’. They take note of what and where students eat and ensure that their meals are hygienic. ‘‘This shows them that we have quality’’ she said.
She also mentioned how willing she is to accept student feedback as it informs her on how to improve her services. Gossip, as opposed to feedback, has been bad for her business.
To these, she added ‘‘It is very hard to satisfy hundreds of people. We do not know what all the needs are but we care. Customers are always the boss. If we fail to satisfy them they walk away and we face a loss.’’
Different people have different needs and as the saying goes, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Owners know how important their customers are and feel the urge to keep them.
In as much as restaurants have the responsibility to provide healthy and tasty food, students should be mindful that nothing can be perfect. Baseless gossip is destructive, irresponsible and should give way to constructive criticism. It is equally unrealistic to expect the top-notch quality of city-center based restaurants at student-friendly prices.
This is also a call to local authorities who ought to ensure that restaurants meet up with the minimum standards for safe food provision.