College chooses alumna to run an eco-friendly kitchen

There is one more objective to asking a former student to run the space: encouraging students to learn the ropes of entrepreneurship.

G. Vasantha Priya, who graduated from the commerce department in 2020, was chosen from the five alumnae that expressed interest in running the space after a round of interview.

When a discussion came up on how to make use of an existing space that functioned as a canteen for some time, various suggestions were offered.

“We have an Aavin booth and a stationery outlet run by students as part of the entrepreneurial development cell of the college, but operating a canteen requires much more time and we proposed inviting an alumna,” says Malarvizhi P, faculty of the department of commerce and director of the Centre for Student Development.

Five alumnae submitted their proposal when the idea was mooted in May 2021.

The college had laid down certain criteria in selecting the person. “We already have a canteen functioning on the campus premises but we wanted this to be run differently, right from the food it served to the way it interacted with customers, so the candidate had to convince us with their plan,” says Malarvizhi.

Stress was on how eco-friendly the takeaway was. “We wanted to promote organic food among students, which at the same time had to be affordable, tasty and hygienic,” says Malarvizhi.

A panel of three members interviewed the candidates who had to prepare a dish.

“I prepared sprouted dal dosa for the health benefits in it,” says Vasantha Priya, who started managing the space since September.

There are many other little innovations that make the college canteen green. No packed juices are served, items wrapped in plastic covers are not sold and eco-friendly cutlery and crockery are used.

Vasantha Priya, who manages the canteen with her mother, says it’s too early to give a verdict for her venture as each day has been different.

“We had surplus food the first day and with rain playing spoilsport it is a challenge to guess how much quantity we need each day but we are learning,” says Vasantha Priya, who is pursuing MBA through distance mode.

Being her own boss has been a dream for quite some time. “My dad is into business and my mother sells saris to supplement the family income, so I knew I wanted to do something on my own and I have always enjoyed trying out new dishes,” says the 21-year-old.

In college, she took up a course offered by the MSME department of the State Government, and has been regular at events by the Centre for Student Development to tap entrepreneurial skills among students.

“In one of the bazaars in the college, I sold my work that I did on fabric painting and it fetched me ₹300. Those nudges in colleges were a spark for me to think about taking the entrepreneurial route,” she says, adding that she has a diploma in tailoring. Vasantha Priya says she is taking baby steps in running the canteen but is confident about creating an impact. “Students address me as akka and as I was in their shoes until last year, I know their expectations,” she adds that they have an open feedback system.

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