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  #1  
Old 01-23-2017, 11:10 AM
WessleyS WessleyS is offline
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Default Prison and County Jail FOOD

I am wondering if anyone at any time has ever tried to do something about the food that is served in both Cook County Jail and the Illinois Prisons. Thankfully, I have been blessed to have only had to endure this "food" for a day or so and so I am truly not one to speak from long time experience. However - the 'one or two times' was enough for me to realize that something, somehow, someway needs to be done.

I realize that people that are in prison or in jail certainly allegedly have done wrong things, some extremely wrong things, but there still should be some sort of human rights that would entitle people to decent food - especially in America.

I don't know how far this would ever go - but I would certainly like to participate in some sort of movement to get the food up to par. Any ideas ? Any suggestions? Any comments ?
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Old 01-23-2017, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by WessleyS View Post
I am wondering if anyone at any time has ever tried to do something about the food that is served in both Cook County Jail and the Illinois Prisons. Thankfully, I have been blessed to have only had to endure this "food" for a day or so and so I am truly not one to speak from long time experience. However - the 'one or two times' was enough for me to realize that something, somehow, someway needs to be done.

I realize that people that are in prison or in jail certainly allegedly have done wrong things, some extremely wrong things, but there still should be some sort of human rights that would entitle people to decent food - especially in America.

I don't know how far this would ever go - but I would certainly like to participate in some sort of movement to get the food up to par. Any ideas ? Any suggestions? Any comments ?
I don't have any experience with those facilities but it isn't an isolated problem. My son is serving time in GA & says the food is often inedible. They have breakfast at 4:30 am & get 10 minutes to eat. Dinner is at 4:30pm & he often can't finish because by the time you get the food & sit down there's very little time left to eat. The quality of the food is awful. He doesn't expect a culinary masterpiece but decent food at a normal temperature would be nice. We treat animals in the shelter better than people behind bars. Hope you have some success making a change. Maybe if leaders had to eat a meal like the ones inmates are served, something would happen.
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Old 01-23-2017, 07:47 PM
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Wessley...I admire your enthusiasm.HOWEVERare you just lamenting, or do you want to actually see it change?
If you want to make a sincere effort at the change, then you need to make a plan and name the "something, somehow, someway needs to be done" that you mention.

Who are the ones to make the food choice decisions? Which companies provide the contracts for the food items? Which facilities have gardens on site? Also, what is your definitions of "decent food" ? Do you mean it is cooked until it's mush? Is the food not seasoned the way folks are used to? Is the kitchen of each facility able to handle the work load? Do the actual inmate cooks know how to cook? Or do people just complain because complaining about the food is a unifi-er and can create a sense of community because everybody is complaining about the same thing?

If you want to change it make your plan and follow through. Otherwise, I agree with you the food sucks and....???
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Old 01-23-2017, 09:17 PM
CenTexLyn CenTexLyn is offline
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Following on what jadah has noted, one has to quantify WHAT the problem is. MOST institutional food is going to be bland because that accomodates the most diets. It ISN'T going to be three and four times the daily caloric requirement like too many in the community tend to eat. But if the meals are satisfying governmental standards, there isn't much that is going to be done by any oversight entity...

As an aside, when I worked with TDCJ, we would randomly pull a tray from one of the inmate lines...it was generally cooked properly but was bland by my personal standards. But guess what...if I go and eat with my grandmother at her assisted living facility, it is the same thing.
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Old 01-24-2017, 12:57 AM
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My first two or three searches came up dry, but I remember decades ago there was an experiment where they added vitamins to a prison's food and the number of disciplinary incidents dropped. Same taste and texture, but apparently people can control themselves better when free from malnutrition. So the administrations could serve their own interests maybe by improving the meal plans.

You could also make the point that health care costs _might_ go down if people had better diets. Try that argument on prisons, not jails.

Connect with the local Quakers. This kind of issue is important to them. They may have a project already that you could join.

You might check whether there are ACA standards you could point to. They're not mandatory but citing them might help persuade anyone open to reason.

One tactic you might try is making sure the health department can do surprise inspections like they can with any other institutional kitchen.

What do you bring to the table to push for changes? With money, you could bankroll lawsuits like the ones that banned Nutraloaf in some places. With political pull you could make changes more directly. Whatever you push for, it'll have to be cheap or you'll really be pushing uphill.

Last edited by Minor activist; 01-24-2017 at 12:59 AM.. Reason: Restore paragraph breaks
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Old 02-14-2017, 02:57 PM
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I was reading somewhere where one of the food companies was being fined for all the rules they were breaking. A lot of time, my boyfriend does not eat the food unless he is starving. He has to buy commissary most times to even keep his weight up because the food is so horrible.
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Old 02-14-2017, 03:17 PM
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Most government standards require a nutritional balance, but taste is subjective. One thing that I did for my LO is spend about $20 on a variety of spices and condiments in his quarterly package. These are things he never would have thought of buying himself, and just about anything tastes better with a dash of hot sauce and a sprinkle of oregano.
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Old 02-14-2017, 03:49 PM
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Yeah, prison food sucks. So does school cafeteria food in case none of y'all have recently eaten with a child at school. If they are hungry they will eat it...inedible is a word I hear all the time in prison circles and I think it's silly. It is poisonous or contaminated or is it just tasteless? 2000 calories a day is easily met by most facilities...and many have cut down to 2 meals a day. I'm not saying that change doesn't need to be made...I'm just saying that without a plan and a group to back you...it's not going to go far. Seeing how they are already monitored I seriously doubt that you'll be able to convince anyone of change.

I see where people claim that they've lost 90 pounds in 6 months because there isn't enough food or the food isn't good....in America, the land of obesity...if you HAD 90 pounds to lose in 6 months you likely needed to lose it...and the horrible prison food probably did you good. Going from eating 4 or 5 times the suggested serving size to a prison diet would be a shock to anybody.
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Old 02-14-2017, 07:06 PM
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Step one to improving jail/prison food, reduce the number people going through the jail and prison system.
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Old 02-15-2017, 01:45 AM
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>Seeing how they are already monitored I seriously doubt that you'll be able to convince anyone of change.

I believe you about what you've seen of course. Not all places are monitored equally well. The Ohio and Michigan maggot scandals are examples of the neglect some places endure.

One angle the OP could pursue is arranging frequent surprise inspections by the health department. "You can expect what you inspect" is the old business saying. The fight then will be about "facility security" concerns. Another thing to try for would be a whistleblower hotline.

If the food is sanitary but not nutritious there's an interesting political card to play. Farmers have political power. Imagine a law requiring prisons to buy local produce. The farmers get a steady market nearby. They will like that. The inmates will get fresh produce with all the vitamins and micronutrients.

If it's nutritious and the problem is that it's boring, I can't think of a way for the OP to succeed.
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Old 02-18-2017, 11:46 AM
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Look into Aramark and the problems with them and what has been done to try to help. They were thrown out of Florida but are in Wv. This is second hand of course but I think there is a new and very real problem. A lot of people have wised up to the problem of privatized prisons but even prisons that aren't may have parts that that are, like food or health services. The big problem that I keep hearing about in Wv is that inmates are hungry, then have to spend every penny they can get at the prison owned store. Here's one example I keep hearing. Like I said, this is second hand but I've heard it a lot. Aramark in Wv serves a lot of meatloaf. If you take a slice of standard white bread and cut it in half that's the size of a portion of meat loaf. For a grown man. You've got prisons full of hungry men, some of them don't have any help from the outside so when they get hungry enough they'll have to take food from someone who does. I know it's standard for inmates to complain about everything but this time I think they've got a real problem.
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Old 02-18-2017, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob-C View Post
Look into Aramark and the problems with them and what has been done to try to help. They were thrown out of Florida but are in Wv. This is second hand of course but I think there is a new and very real problem. A lot of people have wised up to the problem of privatized prisons but even prisons that aren't may have parts that that are, like food or health services. The big problem that I keep hearing about in Wv is that inmates are hungry, then have to spend every penny they can get at the prison owned store. Here's one example I keep hearing. Like I said, this is second hand but I've heard it a lot. Aramark in Wv serves a lot of meatloaf. If you take a slice of standard white bread and cut it in half that's the size of a portion of meat loaf. For a grown man. You've got prisons full of hungry men, some of them don't have any help from the outside so when they get hungry enough they'll have to take food from someone who does. I know it's standard for inmates to complain about everything but this time I think they've got a real problem.
Look, LOTS of incarcerated people whine about being hungry but that is because they were rarely eating a daily recommended caloric intake prior to incarceration. Instead, they were eating all manner of junk food and other large portions that grossly inflated the daily caloric intake. I am unaware of any civil court that has entertained litigation on food that has ruled that the daily menu failed to meet the government recommendations in that arena...
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Old 02-18-2017, 06:00 PM
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Food quality and quantity varies from state to state. New York DOC serves decent food and also has selection in comissary. Federal facilities are even more generous. Illinois is infamous for its paltry rations.
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Old 02-18-2017, 06:19 PM
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Look, LOTS of incarcerated people whine about being hungry but that is because they were rarely eating a daily recommended caloric intake prior to incarceration. Instead, they were eating all manner of junk food and other large portions that grossly inflated the daily caloric intake. I am unaware of any civil court that has entertained litigation on food that has ruled that the daily menu failed to meet the government recommendations in that arena...
I don't know that any court ruled on it, but it certainly sounds like Florida was not meeting the recommended 2000+ calories per day that the posted menus add up to.

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He, too, was plagued by awful memories, among them an exchange that he had with an inmate who kept flinging his food tray at the window of his cell, as though it were a Frisbee. After failing to persuade him to stop, Mallinckrodt concluded that the inmate was in the throes of a psychotic episode. He also noted, with surprise, that there were no food stains on the window. Only later, when he heard about inmates receiving empty meal trays as a form of punishment, did he realize that the prisoner was outraged because the guards were starving him.
That's from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20...-ill-prisoners

Thank heaven that's unusual.

3,000 calories a day would be catastrophic for me but it's not a lot for a big guy if he has a job involving physical labor. 2,083 or whatever the recommended number is would be too little.
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Old 02-18-2017, 08:10 PM
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Where my man is, for lunch EVERYDAY, they get 1 bologna sandwich and 1 apple. This is for men that are all working. And yes, a lot of them are hungry. When I go visit a lot of them are very thin. They do allow family that visit to bring them $75 of food/snacks twice a month, $150 a month total. They have NO commissary. And this is great for people like us, I visit both days, every weekend. But not very many people visit, there are 163 guys there and 3 people were at visit today.
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Old 02-19-2017, 06:40 PM
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Where my man is, for lunch EVERYDAY, they get 1 bologna sandwich and 1 apple. This is for men that are all working. And yes, a lot of them are hungry. When I go visit a lot of them are very thin. They do allow family that visit to bring them $75 of food/snacks twice a month, $150 a month total. They have NO commissary. And this is great for people like us, I visit both days, every weekend. But not very many people visit, there are 163 guys there and 3 people were at visit today.
What is the exact name of facility?
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Old 02-19-2017, 06:52 PM
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What is the exact name of facility?
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Old 03-07-2017, 07:09 PM
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Here's an example of calorie counts being adequate on paper but not on the food tray.

http://gazette.com/email-chain-track...rticle/1598265

Quote:
In one complaint from October, provided by the Sheriff's Office as part of a sampling, an inmate describes his meal: a slice of bologna, a roll, a carrot, two cookies and juice.
"That does not constitute a meal," he writes in the complaint. "The above diet is why I weigh 132 (pounds) at 6 (feet) tall." Another inmate expressed concern on Oct. 5 about not having enough calcium in her diet.
Some at least of the problem may have been a rough transition from one outsourced vendor to another.



Here's part of the Sheriff's department response:
Quote:
Jackie Kirby, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office, said an increase in complaints was expected with the switch.
"Any time there is change in the daily routine involving inmates, they tend to complain or write grievances," she said in a statement. "It is as if they become dependent on the routine nature of being incarcerated."
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Old 03-08-2017, 11:27 PM
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I believe prisons are supposed to provide some sort of rehabilitation and prepare inmates to successfully return to society. Under-feeding and/or giving poor quality food is one of many ways some prisons give prisoners the message their lives and their bodies are not important or worthy of consideration. If we want to prepare people for success upon re-entry, why would we want to subject them to substandard nutrition and a negative message about their physical well-being?
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Old 03-08-2017, 11:39 PM
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I find it peculiar that articles always want to cherry pick a meal but make no mention of the other meals served in a particular day. Instead, they are written in a manner to make people believe that the cited meal is what is served each meal, every day, and that simply IS NOT the reality, even in jails.

Further, jails cannot be properly compared to prisons due to the short-term nature of jail housing.

The other thing that many articles tend to overlook is the number of inmates that cannot be bothered to get up and go eat meals like breakfast because they are too lazy to get up at 4AM (give or take, depending on facility). I have no sympathy for someone that claims to be hungry but deliberately chooses to skip a meal...
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Old 03-09-2017, 01:04 AM
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Everybody's better prepared for re-entry if they've had good nutrition. There's something else on top of that.

The prison food activists here in Washington point out that if there are fresh ingredients coming in to the prison and getting cooked on site, that makes the kitchen workers a lot more employable on the outside than they would be if they'd just been handling plastic packages.

Imagine the job interviews.

Interviewer: "So, you worked in the kitchen. Tell me about that."
Newly free person A: "I planned menus for 600 people to meet a dietitian's standards at a cost of $2.40 per day each, after working my way up from cooking."
Newly free person B: "I microwaved packages from off the truck and put them on trays."
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Old 03-10-2017, 01:01 PM
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Even for people outside WA, the Prison Voice report is worth reading. It's an example of how to make a case and anyone can learn from how they gathered their facts. It's not short, though.

If you get only a few seconds to make a point to a legislator or whatever, the one thing that stands out is that the most common health problems the taxpayers are on the hook for are (1) diabetes (2) high blood pressure. A low-starch, low-sodium diet would be a direct money saver.

http://prisonvoicewa.org/content/Cor...2016-10-25.pdf
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Old 03-10-2017, 01:32 PM
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Cooking meals from scratch would save a ton of money, most of the labor could be preformed by the inmates, and it would really improve the quality of the food. They also use a lot of single serve condiments and beverages that cost twice as much as they should. The budget per meal isn't the problem, it's the lazy way that it is used. For $2-$3 per meal for 2000 people, it could be a feast. Instead it's the packaged and canned garbage that most people are trying to get away from.
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