Empty Promises: Something Still Stinks in Michigan and Ohio’s Prison Kitchens

Source: Stephen Katz, Cleve Scene, February 17, 2016

A series of reports over a two-year period in Michigan told of disturbing incidents in which the company served food tainted by maggots on multiple occasions, knowingly served rotten meat, ordered inmates to serve food pulled from the garbage, handed out food on which rats nibbled, and served moldy food. … Things were no better in Ohio. The Buckeye State cited Aramark 240 times in 2014 for shorting inmates on food. The state’s prison kitchens have also seen issues with maggots, mice turds, employee shortages, substandard food, and unsanitary conditions. … In Ohio, the prisons’ unions offered to run the kitchens for less money than Aramark, but Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Correction opted to extend Aramark’s contract in June while boosting its pay from $110 million to $130 million over two years. As a precautionary measure, Michigan and Ohio hired more monitors to ensure prisoners aren’t starving or eating larvae. So there’s that. … Aramark, the world’s largest institutional food conglomerate, and Trinity, plop meals onto prisoners’ trays at around 950 detention centers in North America, according to the companies’ websites. But that figure is dropping, mostly because Aramark is establishing itself as the poster child for all that’s wrong with privatization, due in no small part to widely publicized incidents in Michigan and Ohio. Trinity’s record is better than Aramark, but the bar is low. Last year the Southern Center for Human Rights considered suing the company for allegedly starving inmates in Georgia.