Food service company saves money by slowly starving prisoners it's been hired to feed
One of the most common complaints I've read from prisoners is that they aren't fed enough and that the food they can buy with their own money is all absolute junk.
Less than a year after Michigan shifted responsibility for feeding its prisoners to a private contract with international food services conglomerate Aramark, the state Department of Corrections (DOC) is warning the company that it may yank the contract if chronic food shortages and security violations don’t cease.
The DOC says Aramark has violated terms of the prison food contract hundreds of times since it fully took charge of feeding Michigan’s incarcerated in December. The violations include providing insufficient amounts of food, swapping menu items without the required authorization from DOC officials, and staffing issues that the department says endanger prisoners and prison employees alike. Kitchen items like knives and whisks have gone missing, according to the DOC letter warning Aramark to clean up its act, and employees have attempted to smuggle contraband into the prison. The state fined Aramark $98,000 in March over these and other violations of the contract.
Aramark’s deal with the state requires it “to comply with a statewide standard menu that provides a daily average intake of 2,600 calories for men and 2,200 calories for women,” according to the Detroit Free Press, but the company has routinely failed to provide enough meals, and made substitutions, like swapping in bread and peanut butter for waffles and sausage, that undermine prisoner nutrition.
Unless the state ends up voiding it due to continued breeches of the agreement, Michigan’s contract will pay Aramark about $145 million in total. A company spokeswoman told the Detroit Free Press that Aramark has “made a great deal of progress and continues to work diligently to address any issues that arise.” That same spokeswoman did not respond to multiple requests for information on how the company’s prison contracts relate to its overall portfolio of food service work, but a document on the company website indicates that Aramark contracts with 500 corrections clients out of more than 407,000 separate total clients worldwide. Its most recent quarterly earnings report identifies corrections contracts as a bright spot in the multi-billion-collar company’s overall performance.