School Canteen Operators Are Urging For More Subsidies To Keep Students' Meals Affordable

The operators are asking the government for further subsidies on ingredients and rent to keep providing nutritious meals.

Cover image via Amirul Shaufiq/Malaysia Gazette & Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

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School canteen operators are urging the government to let them buy cooking ingredients at further subsidised rates to maintain affordably-priced meals for students

According to The Star, Malaysian School Canteen Operators Association secretary Siti Normah Md Desa suggested that canteen operators should be allowed to buy subsidised cooking oil, which is currently only sold for domestic use.

"We are serving schoolchildren who mostly can't afford expensive meals. Perhaps we should be allowed access to some vital ingredients at subsidised rates," said Normah.

"For example, a kilogram of chicken was RM8.50 last week, and now it has increased by another RM2.80 to RM11.30."

Malaysian School Canteen Operators Association secretary Siti Normah Md Desa.

Image via Amirul Shaufiq/Malaysia Gazette

Normah also asked for a better rental system for school canteen operators to keep their operating costs low

She said canteen operators currently cannot adjust food and drink prices on their own as agreed upon their two-year-long tender contracts.

Due to this, many operators that submitted their tenders in 2021 for the 2022 school year have lost a lot of money amidst the ongoing price hike of ingredients.

Subsequently, more than 40% of the association's 10,200 members nationwide have chosen not to continue with their operations at the end of their contracts because of the losses.

"Some even resorted to hiring a 'caretaker' operator while waiting for their contracts to expire," she added.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

She also said only new operators would have their tenders factoring in the higher costs and be able to adjust their prices

"Operators on previous tender contracts are still selling at the old prices," she said.

However, she added that canteen food in schools nationwide was still relatively cheap and affordable.

"Pocket money of RM4 is enough for fried rice with a fried egg and a glass of water at most school canteens."

School bus fares also saw a recent hike, making parents worry about the rising cost of living:

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