'Don't say bo jio': Singapore students savour buffet leftovers on campus

Reena Devi
Lifestyle Reporter
Rice and noodles are some of the mainstay leftovers at buffets on NTU campus. Photo: Valerie Wong

Buffet leftovers on local campus have been in the news this week after the media reported on chat groups set up by students from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU) to alert their peers to help themselves to the food. 

The trend is not new, however, as students from various universities and polytechnics have been involved in such activities in the past.

In 2009, students from Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) created a private Facebook group to alert everyone in SUTD about leftover food at events. A student would typically take a photo of the food and post it in the group and add the comment “DSBJ” (don’t say bo jio).

The group, which was started by the pioneer batch of SUTD students, came about “because free food and students just go well together,” said group administrator and SUTD student Koh Rong Ying.

Students across universities in Singapore are using social media to alert their peers on free leftovers at campus events. Photo: Valerie Wong (NTU)

Prior to organising such groups on social media, some students like Elaine Sam Hui Xian, 25, would look out for leftover food on campus on an ad hoc basis. Sam, a co-founder of the NUS Buffet Response Team, said she would do so during her polytechnic days with a group of friends to “save on our lunch money or for some snacks between lectures”.

The NUS group, which started as a Facebook page in 2015 before becoming a Telegram chat group early this year, has over 5,800 members and crowd-sourced over 160 buffet events to date, according to Sam.

The Bachelor of Environmental Studies undergraduate said, “In tertiary institutions, people often gather for food. Events such as seminars, launch event, movie screening or even welcome tea sessions organised by CCAs will have buffet catering arranged.”

Dim sum and finger food are some of the favourite leftover items on NTU campus. Photo: Valerie Wong

So what are the most popular leftover food items on campus?

Valerie Wong, a first year NTU student who co-founded one such group, said the majority of the leftovers are typically noodles and rice. There are currently more than 2,000 people in the group as of Friday (October 20), according to Wong.

Dim sum and meat are very popular among NTU students, according to Wong. “When students post in the group, they usually highlight the meat for example, ‘good variety of meats’ or ‘beef bento set’,” Wong said.  

Over at NUS, the posts that have received the most responses so far were those highlighting cupcakes and drinks, according to Sam. Students in these groups can at times savour a generous spread of food.

“Depending on how big scale the organiser wants the event to be, it could be as many as 6 to 7 courses including dessert, or as simple as three courses without dessert,” said Marcus Teng, NTU undergraduate and member of the chat group.

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