Campus uproar as Chinese university bans food deliveries to boost health

  • Students hit back at attempt to cut down on rubbish, traffic and unhealthy lifestyles
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 9:48pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 10:36pm

A university in southeast China has ordered security guards to stop food delivery vehicles from entering the campus as it tries to clamp down on rubbish, traffic and unhealthy diets.

The ban triggered an online backlash among students and prompted a number of food delivery store owners to drive into the campus and distribute free meals in front of a canteen around noon on Monday, Shanghai-based news site Thepaper.cn reported. The owners were taken away by police for disrupting order, the report said.

Minjiang University in Fuzhou, Fujian province, announced the ban on Monday, saying there had been a number of accidents caused by food delivery workers riding their electric bikes and motorcycles too fast. The services were also so popular that they were causing a mountain of rubbish.

“In lunch or dinner peak hours, disposable meal boxes have piled up on dormitory and classroom floors and even on dustbin lids ... making these places dirty,” the university said.

There were also concerns about the health of students ordering the meals.

“A small number of students always stay at their dormitory and rely on the food delivery service if they want to eat,” it said. “They .. are not getting enough exercise outdoors and the state of their health is quite worrying.”

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The university said it had told canteens to lower food prices, improve the quality of meals and extend service hours to encourage more students to use the campus facilities.

It would also nominate certain areas near school gates for students to pick food ordered online.

Minjiang students are among the province’s biggest users of food delivery services, with total orders among the top five for Fujian universities over the past two years, the report said, citing Minjiang’s propaganda department.

The announcement on Monday resulted in a flood of complaints on the university’s account on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform.

“I am a student of Minjiang University. I can tell you that not a single dormitory is near any school gate. We either have to join the long queues at the canteen, or spend a lot of time running to the school gate to pick up our food. It’s so inconvenient,” one commenter said.

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Among the 1,100 respondents to a Weibo poll on Tuesday morning, only 4 per cent were in favour of the campus ban, with most saying the delivery services were cheap, convenient and offered more delicious food than university canteens.

China’s food delivery industry has grown rapidly over the past few years. Meituan, the leader in the field, said in May that it was handling 20 million meal orders a day.

But Chongqing-based environmental group Green Volunteer League has also taken aim at the industry over its use of non-biodegradable meal boxes and plastic, suing the country’s three meal-ordering app giants last year for damaging the environment.