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  #1  
Old 12-04-2009, 10:00 AM
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Post Prison Food and Nutrition Research

I am a nutrition researcher from Boston. I am now working with a non-profit MA community outreach program for prisoners on a project to study nutritional status and food cultures in prison. The purpose of my study is to understand what is served in prisons, how healthy/unhealthy the meal plans and the meal environments are, whether we need to improve the minimum standard for food served in prison.

If people can help us get an idea of the kinds of food served in prison, that would be wonderful. Specifically, I would like to know:

1. Types and location of prison (state/fed, New York/California etc)

2. Examples of meals served whether it is good food, bad food, popular food, and/or unpopular food (as specific as possible)

3. Examples of meal environments

4. Examples of innovative ideas to make meals better (if any)

5. Requests on how you would improve meal content and/or meal environments



Thank you so much for all the help! If you would rather e-mail me, please contact me at (email removed per PTO policy) .

Sincerely,
Mika

Last edited by ben's girl; 12-13-2009 at 05:12 PM..
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Old 12-12-2009, 11:26 AM
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I see you have not received responses yet on this forum, but I am sending this to my son, who is in a federal facility and also has celiac disease. He has a lot of interest in nutrition and is highly knowledgeable. He was hoping to pursue a degree in nutrition/dietetics but since his felony conviction, learned he won't be able to be licensed in the two states where he inquired. I'm pretty sure he'll respond back to me, and I'll post what he sends when I get it.
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  #3  
Old 12-13-2009, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by mysonsinyankton View Post
I see you have not received responses yet on this forum, but I am sending this to my son, who is in a federal facility and also has celiac disease. He has a lot of interest in nutrition and is highly knowledgeable. He was hoping to pursue a degree in nutrition/dietetics but since his felony conviction, learned he won't be able to be licensed in the two states where he inquired. I'm pretty sure he'll respond back to me, and I'll post what he sends when I get it.
Thank you very much for your comment. I look very much forward to hearing about your son's thoughts. I believe that this is an important issue for everyone but especially for people with special needs like your son. I am hoping that my research can contribute to better nutrition/food environments in prisons.

Thank you again for getting in touch with me.
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Old 12-13-2009, 04:50 PM
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Old 12-14-2009, 10:48 PM
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Yes I am going to ask my boyfriend these questions and will reply.. i know what he calls the food and its nothing nice. Very sad I would say - we are in NY state prisons
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Old 12-14-2009, 11:11 PM
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My husband actually enjoys the food at Petersburg Low a Federal Prison.


His meals that I know about in the past week included for lunch, Fish sandwich, beans and rice, corn bread and fresh fruit.

Roast beef, mashed potatoes, greens and fruit.

The only meal he doesn't participate in regularly is breakfast but that's because he makes his own.

The lines are long to wait for chow since the food is so much better now.

Improvements would be with more salad choices. He'd like to have a salad offered everyday and no sandwich mystery meat. It's the one thing that almost none of the inmates eat. It's slimey and gross and I think all prisons purchase the same stuff. Luckily they don't have it more than a few meals a month.
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Old 12-15-2009, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoseandJess View Post
Yes I am going to ask my boyfriend these questions and will reply.. i know what he calls the food and its nothing nice. Very sad I would say - we are in NY state prisons
I look very much forward to hearing about the food served there. Thank you so much for your help!
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Old 12-15-2009, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bluesbuster View Post
My husband actually enjoys the food at Petersburg Low a Federal Prison.


His meals that I know about in the past week included for lunch, Fish sandwich, beans and rice, corn bread and fresh fruit.

Roast beef, mashed potatoes, greens and fruit.

The only meal he doesn't participate in regularly is breakfast but that's because he makes his own.

The lines are long to wait for chow since the food is so much better now.

Improvements would be with more salad choices. He'd like to have a salad offered everyday and no sandwich mystery meat. It's the one thing that almost none of the inmates eat. It's slimey and gross and I think all prisons purchase the same stuff. Luckily they don't have it more than a few meals a month.
These are very interesting and very useful information. It's interesting to hear that the food/nutrition at some prisons seem to be more enjoyable than the others.

Do you know if they serve milk/fruit juice as well?

Thank you very much for all the information!
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Old 12-17-2009, 06:51 PM
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My guy is in Osborn CI in Somers, CT.

They serve a lot of what he calls "slop with rice". A few pieces of... some might call it "meat"? swimming in some "sauce" over a lot of white rice with 2 or 3 slices of very white bread. Very little in the way of fruit or fresh vegetables, but at least at Os the veggies aren't overcooked and Os is known to have some of the better food of CT prison system. At X-mas the addition of commissary bought garlic powder, 'adobo' and onion powder helps make the food better. I fear he is not getting enough roughage or vitamins. I can never understand why prisons surrounded by farmland get no edible fresh produce.

And of course the ever imaginative 1000's of ways to create ramen recipes and sandwiches of summer sausage and pepperoni and cheese from commissary, as well as all the junk food keep these guys going more than the prison food.

Last edited by fraghanwicare; 12-17-2009 at 06:52 PM..
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Old 12-17-2009, 07:51 PM
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My Grandson had 2 hot dogs and slaw for dinner tonight!!!. This sheriff is known for pocket any left over money and feeding inmates Corn dogs, bologna, He feed them a corn dog a day for 6 weeks.
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  #11  
Old 12-23-2009, 12:30 PM
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Thank you everyone for all the information! Your comments are all very helpful and insightful.
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Old 12-23-2009, 02:34 PM
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Well as for the federal prisons. I got out in 2007 just before the national menu went into effect and let me tell you - hamburgers marked infit for human consumption, chicken that at times looked like it was in steroids(good) to times when it looked like they killed pigeons in the yard and cooked them (obviously bad). We used to get salad, but they stopped that. We refered to the unbreaded fish as sewer trout (eww) and then there were the chalupas and fajitas that had 2 slivers of meat in them. There were quite a few other palate pleasing meals (inject sarcasm big time) however the roast beef was ok, the chili wasnt bad. breakfast was usually ok. However, I did spend my full $260.00 a month on commissary and mostly survived on that. Oh and I can state the unfit for consumption with certainty as I worked in the kitchen and had to help prepare this slop. BTW there was rice or potatos with almost every meal. I did hear from people that some of the food has improved in quality and quanity since the national menu was put into place. Plus I have to give credit where credit is due, they do religious meals once a year and the different religions got to each pick out a meal. Protestant picked out ribs, catholics picked out lamb, I forgot what the others picked out. The cuts weren't the greatest and the meat was stretched, but I found that a pretty nice gesture to say the least. There was talk about ending that program because of costs, so I'm not sure if it's still going on. Now this was at Devens in MA, during that time I heard Ft. Dix in NJ was rice and bean heaven. Same ole for lunch and dinner daily and if they could have did it for breakfast, they would have.

Joe
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Old 12-23-2009, 06:29 PM
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yesterday A peanut butter sand for lunch with 2 pieces of bread and could not find the peanut butter! Today Egg salad sand, if you want to call it that. No fruit or milk maybe 1 time a week, Breakfast 1 biscuit and sausage,
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Old 12-24-2009, 02:53 PM
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I have sent several copies to Pelican Bay. Do you have an address where they can mail the requested info directly to you?
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Old 12-24-2009, 06:12 PM
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I have sent several copies to Pelican Bay. Do you have an address where they can mail the requested info directly to you?
I will check my office's address and message you soon. Thank you so much for your help!
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  #16  
Old 01-01-2010, 07:58 PM
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If you are still doing research in this area, shoot me a message and I'll be glad to let you answer any questions your got, even talk to me on the phone. I'd might even be able to perhaps get you actual menus/ internal nutrition documents/memos from inside the system. I did a short stretch in a Mass. county facility on a comtempt citation and became quite ill from the food. The whole experience made me a gym rat/fitness freak, a nut re. nutrition and nearly phobic re. cleanliness/hygiene.
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Old 01-02-2010, 10:38 AM
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Just to follow up on Petersburg, VA. For Christmas they had Cornish game hens, potatoes, greens, apple pie. It was really good. They had roast yesterday with all the trimmings and fish sandwiches for lunch. All really good. The difference in meals the last six months has been astounding from what everyone says in Petersburg. They went from horrid to gourmet.
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Old 01-02-2010, 08:22 PM
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The way I hear it, federal meals are all "round". Circles of turkey roll, round circles (usually 3) of carrots and a round scoop of potatoes or rice. In nearly 3 years not one salad, no fruit juices and on a rare occasion, canned pineapple circles.
The meals seem to be yellow, tan or white in color. There are no condiments so you can't disguise it with ketchup.
Round Balogna is huge, cold, cooked, whatever. White bread is the only bread and the only green vegetable he has seen so far has been green peas (also round)

Please note that what I am describing to you is the feds idea of a cardiac diet!
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Old 01-03-2010, 07:55 AM
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Like I said, Petersburg, or Sweetersburg, as the prisoners call it, is in some weird alternate universe. Yesterday they had a salad, really good and the bolagna lately has even had the string around the edge that you have to pull off on weekends. Fresh greens a couple of times this week too. He even sent me the wishbone from his Cornish hen the other day. One day this week was fried chicken, really good fried chicken.

He's had a huge piece of watermelon, fresh oranges, apples. It's a different world at Petersburg I guess.




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The way I hear it, federal meals are all "round". Circles of turkey roll, round circles (usually 3) of carrots and a round scoop of potatoes or rice. In nearly 3 years not one salad, no fruit juices and on a rare occasion, canned pineapple circles.
The meals seem to be yellow, tan or white in color. There are no condiments so you can't disguise it with ketchup.
Round Balogna is huge, cold, cooked, whatever. White bread is the only bread and the only green vegetable he has seen so far has been green peas (also round)

Please note that what I am describing to you is the feds idea of a cardiac diet!
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Old 01-05-2010, 05:31 AM
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Corn dogs were on my son's menu list for a very long time also. He thinks they got a deal on them.....but as of now I think they ran out. I will get this to him and thank you for bringing it up as I think it is very important for the health of our loved ones with the kinds of food they are given. Thanks again.
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:49 AM
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I was in Arrendale State Prison(Alto, Ga) a few years back, I was told by kitchen staff that boxes were marked "Not Fit for human consumption"...Salads contained 2 pieces of lettuce and a couple shreds of carrots...Not sure what the "meat" was...sometimes it would be green and smelled rotten. While I was in county (Glynn County, Ga) our food was brought to us it was left sit in the hall way until it was cold...Chicken that was still running blood out of it, when grievences were filed that the chicken was raw ( all inmates did not eat that night ) we were told that it was too bad.Out of date milk served. Any type of bread so hard it had to be soaked in water to be able to eat. No fruit got served. No lunch on the weekends at either place. Peanut butter & bolagne (green) sandwiches Mon-Fri. no change. mold on the bread.

My husband's in State Prison (Ga) got served cold raw turkey at Thanksgiving (1 very thin slice) uncooked dressing...The food there is hardly edible.
The servings are skimpy hardly anything on the trays. Some of the guys that have been transfered there from other places have lost significant amounts of weight..Sometimes the veggies smell sour the meat smells rotten. Raw chicken is served.
Suggestions:
More should be offered on commissary than just ramen noodles..
They should be allowed to recieve food packages sent to them.
More fresh fruit and juice on the menu

The food in these facilities in Ga isnt something people in the free world would serve to animals.
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Old 02-21-2010, 09:57 PM
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That is some really good food. He is truly blessed to be at a prison that will serve that to them. In CA...they give the guys the bare minimum on food. Slop....old and saturated in grease food. Its awful. They do give them a piece of fruit, but that would be the only healthy thing they give them for meals


I know right! It's shocking to everyone at the prison. I mean they eat better than I do. They took these big roasts and cooked and then shredded them and made steak and cheese subs out of the roast. They have really good ff and hamburgers too. For brunch they do waffles and eggs and fruit and ham or sausage. Ridiculously good. Now I think the biggest problem is the lines for chow are really long.
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Old 03-11-2010, 12:04 AM
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I spent three years in prison, so I thought I'd add from my own experience.

1. Wisconsin. Maximum security, medium security, and minimum security.

2. In max food was decent. Sometimes it would be some kind of processed meat patty, a small salad, fruit, milk. Medium security was a little worse, a lot of low quality soy products and low grade chicken. Cereals in the mornings, milk with each meal. Throughout my WI prison stay each meal usually had fruits, veg, a meat source, grains, etc. Minimum security was the best without a doubt, larger portions, and better quality meats and vegetables (The prison was much smaller, with a max capacity of around 125).


3. Everyone was hungry, lol. Some times there would be issues, such as arguing, etc. Secluded tables of 4-6 inmates per table. Usually no violence. A few fights here and there. The correctional officers were usually yelling for people to hurry and finish their meals.

4. Gardens at the prisons, to have fresher and more nutritious veg and fruits.

5. Have prison farms that raised some of the foods, such as chicken, so that they didn't have to buy the bottom of the bucket items.
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Old 03-11-2010, 04:35 AM
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I do believe prisons should become more self sufficient with more food grown and raised near or on their own facilities. They definitely have the manpower and many have lots of unused land to be creative with.

A fresh garden plot......chickens can serve both eggs and meat.....as with a few cows. Getting back to basics makes sense and would save tons of money and give inmates a sense of purpose with the chores that would be needed to upkeep such.

Or is is better and less costly to serve our loved ones spoiled and unnutricious food that ultimately leads to disease and illness driving the cost of the need for nurses and doctors?

I would also agree with those who are doing well with their nutritional needs, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
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Old 03-11-2010, 03:12 PM
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Mine is in Middleton in MA.

He's lost 29 pounds in 3 weeks. He has a pretty serious milk allergy (and blueberry and mushroom) so there isn't much he can eat.

Breakfast is grits.

Lunch is ham salad or slimy lunch meat, he said almost no one there eats lunch.

Dinner the other night was over cooked rice and beans, the guards laughed and said it was a mistake but thats all they had for dinner. He's also crunchy spaghetti and LOTS of biscuits and cookies. They have fish on Fridays and he said he wouldn't touch it despite the fact that he's starving (and he LOVES fish). He's been eating the cookies and his cell mate has been sharing oatmeal with him. So for 3 weeks he's had bread, water, cookies and oatmeal. I'm surprised they consider him healthy after he's been pretty much starving for 3 weeks.
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