The Ministry of Education has ordered universities and colleges on the mainland to ensure the stability of food prices at their canteens by providing subsidies or taking other steps, Xinhua reported yesterday. Ministry spokesman Wang Xuming was quoted as saying that colleges should pay special attention to students whose families found themselves in economic difficulties as food prices increased. Colleges had adopted a variety of measures to tackle the issue, Xinhua reported. For example, each student from a poor family studying at universities and colleges in Hubei was given a five yuan per month subsidy to offset the effect of rising meat prices between May and June. Poor students studying at universities and colleges in Liaoning have been given four yuan a day as a subsidy starting in June in a scheme that will run until December. The measures have been prompted by recent rapid increases in the prices of staple foods, meat, energy and water, which have had a direct impact on the cost of food sold at college canteens. Colleges in Wuhan , in Hubei province , said each catty of rice cost 14.95 per cent more while the cost of pork had risen by 76.27 per cent, Xinhua reported. Universities and colleges had also streamlined procedures to reduce wastage, it said.