The financial struggle of mess residents
Living in a mess, an accommodation arrangement where individuals share their living space with others, has been a common practice for bachelors in Bangladesh, particularly for those living in urban areas.
The messes have been an affordable option for many, especially for those who are students or job aspirants with limited income. However, with the rise in the prices of all essentials, including food, housing, and utilities, bachelors residing in messes are struggling to make ends meet.
Joy Banik, a resident of Monipuripara in the capital, shared his struggles with The Daily Star.
Joy said that just three years ago, he could cover his monthly food expenses with Tk 2,500. However, now, even after spending Tk 4,000 a month, he struggles to manage. Members of the mess he lives in are forced to cut their consumption of protein due to the rise in food prices.
Just a year ago, they used to consume chicken and fish on every alternate day with meal prices averaging around Tk 40-45. However, now, they have been forced to modify their diet, limiting their meat and fish intake to only two days a week.
The increase in food prices has forced them (mess residents) to modify their diets and cut down on protein intake, leading to protein deficiency. This deficiency can even lead to chronic diseases.
Despite the changes in diet, the cost of each meal has gone up to Tk 60-65. As Joy is still jobless, he is dependent on financial support from his acquaintances, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for him.
Nuruzzaman, who lives in a mess on Dilu Road, shared similar experiences, saying that there has been a significant shift in dietary habits over the past few years. Previously, they used to consume beef or mutton twice a week. However, now, they do not dare to think of consuming beef or mutton even once a month. Nuruzzaman added that they often eat potato, pulse, and eggs as the price of vegetables is also very high.
FALLING ILL FOR PROTEIN DEFICIENCY
Habibur Rahman, a private-university student residing in a mess in Farmgate area, revealed that he has fallen ill on at least three occasions after dining there. He even had to be admitted to the hospital once, and the doctor had diagnosed him with protein deficiency. Habibur is still taking medicine.
Sajjad Hossain, a private-sector employee living in a mess in Gulshan area, shared a similar experience, concluding that eventually he had to move to a different mess. He said the cost of each meal was exorbitant, Tk 70 and even sometimes more, and was frustrated about not getting good food even after paying such an amount.
The increase in food prices has forced them to modify their diets and cut down on protein intake, leading to protein deficiency and falling ill, said Prof SK Nazrul Islam, director of the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science at Dhaka University.
"This deficiency can even lead to chronic diseases," he added.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, food inflation was 9.09 percent and non-food inflation was 9.72 percent in March.
Three months earlier, food inflation was 7.76 percent and non-food inflation 9.84 percent.