On Monday, January 13th, Indiana prisoners being detained in Westville Correctional Facility began to refuse the nutritionally deficient, unappetizing cold sack lunches they have been forced to endure over the past several months and have issued a call for solidarity. A mass call-in, starting at 8am on Tuesday, is being planned to put pressure on IDOC officials and Aramark Correctional Services to reinstitute hot lunch trays.
On Tuesday, let’s show solidarity and inundate IDOC Commissioner Bruce Lemmon 317 232 5711 and Aramark Correctional Services (800) 777-7090 with phone calls demanding the return of hot lunch trays for Indiana prisoners.
Why is this happening?
According to “official” sources, the switch to sack lunches was a 90 day test program launched in response to a prisoner’s request to increase recreation and shower time. Overlooking the absurd proposition that a prison would change its food policy based on a prisoner request for extended recreation time, the fact is that since the conversion to sack lunches, recreation and shower time have not increased, and the 90 day trial period has long since passed.
The truth is more likely to be found in the bottom line and Aramark’s business history. In 2005, Aramark Correctional Services (ACS) signed aquarter billion dollar, ten year contract with the Indiana Department of Corrections to provide meals for inmates. Since then, Indiana DOC has saved more than $11 million a year, spending approximately $1.19 per meal/per prisoner. In other states these savings have been achieved as a result of skimping on food portions and quality. In Florida, an audit of ACS found the company was cutting costs/increasing profits by cutting portions on meals. In Kentucky, similar skimping on portions coupled with a decrease in the quality of food led to food riots in 2009. During the investigation that followed, Aramark refused to provide Kentucky auditors with access to its records, making a claim to their proprietary rights and confidentiality.
Here in Indiana, prisoners are reporting a reduction in portions in everything from peanut butter portions to chicken patties, in the discontinuation of fresh fruit in disciplinary units, and in the replacement of meat with pasta covered in “liquid gravy” or chili composed of “pink slime.” To complicate matters, and make accountability more difficult, different Indiana prisons, and different areas within those prisons, are all receiving different portions and meals. This is Aramark’s mark of business as usual. Let’s let them know we are watching.
On Tuesday, let’s show solidarity and inundate IDOC Commissioner Bruce Lemmon (317) 232-5171 and Aramark Correctional Services (800) 777-7090 with phone calls demanding the return of hot lunch trays for Indiana prisoners.
Write firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or solidarity reports.
*Original call made by prisoners* :
*Aramark fails to comply with contract agreement and prisoners are seeking your help.*
*No more sack lunch Back to Hot trays!*
*Indiana prisoners are refusing sack lunches and request assistance on Tuesday, January 14, 2014, starting at 8:00 a.m. Please call Central office at (317) 232-5171 ask for Commissioner, Bruce Lemmon. Also call 1800 777-7090 to complain directly to Aramark about the following:*
In 2005, Aramark signed a ten year contract with the Indiana Department of Corrections to provide meals for inmates. Indiana signed a contract with Aramark $258,000,000, for a ten year period. “It is cost effective for profit for Aramark but it should be noted that other prisons that are under contract with Aramark in other states pay more for providing food for inmates.” The average cost per day for a meal in Indiana is $1.19 per day.
The Indiana DOC has saved more than $11 million a year, a spokesman there said, since it privatized its food operations to ARAMARK Correctional Services, an arm of the Philadelphia-based ARAMARK Corp. ARAMARK Correctional Services, or ACS, has had testy relationships with some other prison systems and jails in some parts of the country. As an example, a Florida audit of ACS’s contract with the state DOC found the company wascutting costs without decreasing its rates to the department. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/05/07/prison-food-contractor-aramark/2140503/).
This was done by skimping on the portions served to inmates as they are now doing in Indiana. According to Mike Scott, “the sack lunch was supposed to be a pilot program that would last only 90 days and if it didn’t work they would go back to trays.” An issued memo in April claimed the initial suggestion was made by an inmate, so that they would not have to serve a hot lunch; therefore, would allow them more time to finish recreation and showers.
In reality, the conversion to brown bag lunches has not changed anything because the rec and showers are still spilling over into the next shift. It is questionable why DOC would listen to the input of one inmate rather than the input from all inmates that would be affected. When did this new policy of soliciting advice from an inmate come about? This is not a uniform policy statewide in regards to the serving and quality of sack lunches.
Sack lunch was tried at Wabash but when it became a security issue in terms of the negative reaction by prisoners, the warden came on TV and announced discontinuance. Why is it more feasible for some institutions to have this program while others don’t? At New Castle prison it has been reported that in their sack lunches they receive at least two meat sandwiches (boloney or turkey) a fruit item, peanut butter and bread. At Westville Correctional Facility (population) it is reported that they receive a meat item, peanut butter, juice bread and a cookie, but the control unit (previously called MCC; Supermax) receives two packs of one ounce peanut butter which started off as three and now has been reduced to two, a juice pack, four slices of bread and a soggy cookie/ half baked. Since this program has begun all fresh fruit has been discontinued for disciplinary units,+ for all meals. Things like patties (chicken, beef) has been severely reduced to the point of non-existence and replaced with a majority of dishes comprised of pasta/noodles and sauce or liquid gravy with no meat. When complaints are made about the lack of meat, peanut butter is immediately substituted as the protein. It is also used as an appeasement for any other failure to supply said items such as dessert, vegetable, etc. An example is the serving of rice with peanut butter and jelly. The rice constitutes the hot meal and the sandwich is the sack part of the lunch; neither which are filling for grown individuals let alone appetizing. Lunch is usually the same every weekend and pink slime is used to sub for meat that is to go in dishes such as chili or spaghetti.
Disciplinary sections consisting of young offenders and mentally ill are not treated the same as population. They are being served this garbage daily. In other words, this is the same treatment that was found to be a human rights violation in the late 90’s by the Human Rights Watch Organization.
This is why your help is needed!