At a time when the tempting and sometimes even hard-to-believe offers of food delivery companies are increasing the consumption of junk food in the already unhealthy lives of college students, The Healthy Food Canteen is trying to impact student lives by providing tasty yet healthy home made food.
The big blue box near the Vindhya canteen is one of IIIT’s more recent startups that has one simple goal — to make the community healthier and fitter.
The owner of the Healthy Food Canteen, Mr. Satheesh is a IIIT student himself, pursuing his PhD in Bioinformatics. Having worked for a while at the sports department at IIIT, he understands the need for a healthy lifestyle quite well.
However, Mr. Satheesh’s quest to spread good health has a more personal side to it too. He had been extremely unhealthy at one point and a good diet had helped him change his irregular sleep and eating habits. He had also seen his family members suffer due to the lack of healthy habits. This made him determined to provide an alternative to the snacks generally eaten by college students, like puffs and Maggi.
The Start Up
Mr. Satheesh was inspired by the work done by Ankit Nagori, the co-founder of Curefit and met him to understand how the business. The Healthy Food Canteen is now being incubated at T-hub, where the employees work towards their ultimate goal — to expand the business to come up with personalised diets for people that will be most beneficial to them health-wise, while not cutting down on the taste.
Foods Currently at the Canteen
Although the canteen was just started a few months ago, it already boasts of several healthy snack options, several of them that have been amusingly named after their unhealthy counterparts, like pizza-uthappam and healthy cola.
The healthy cola uses organic Sugandha root and does not contain caffeine. Likewise, the organic coffee is made from jackfruit seed and also has no added caffeine. The food contains no maida, no preservatives, artificial colours, synthetic flavours, essences, eggs, baking soda, stabilizers, emulsifiers. The canteen also serves Ragi laddoo made from pure ghee, and low sugar Gulab Jamoon and Lassi. Malt based drinks are also available,
Mr. Satheesh ensures utmost care is taken in sourcing the ingredients. For instance, processed salt is completely avoided and only Himalayan rock salt is used. Palm oil is completely avoided and only peanut oil or ghee is used.
The Healthy Canteen also gets very creative and constantly adds new items, while taking student as well as parent feedback to improve their products.
Going the Extra Mile
The Healthy Canteen tries to ensure that they give their best when it comes to customer satisfaction and aims to be a responsible enterprise as well. They try to maintain a soothing ambience with gentle lighting and play classical music during the nights. It is important to cater to students at night, feels Mr. Satheesh, as IIIT’s nightlife is extremely active. He also says that subtle changes to the spices are made according to the weather.
The Healthy Canteen does not use plastic and sticks to using only steel spoons. It also employs workers from Yashoda foundation, that helps underprivileged children and their families, thus providing a livelihood for them.
Customer reviews have been largely positive, and there are now several regular customers, among students and faculty alike. Student feedback is taken seriously and implemented. Bigger parathas, more healthy beverages with are now sold after several students requested for it. It is refreshing to see a canteen attempt bring about a much needed change in student lifestyles, in an such an all-rounded fashion.
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