Ohio prisons are saving more than $10 million a year by using a private company to feed inmates, a new report shows. But the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee report also shows inmate food complaints are up dramatically, and there are problems with private employees getting fired for having inappropriate relationships with prisoners. The committee is a legislative watchdog over adult and juvenile prisons. Aramark Correctional Services, a private company, was awarded a state contract and took over prison kitchens from state union members in September 2013 and is serving meals to nearly 51,000 inmates. The switch was projected to save the state $30 million a year. The CIIC report issued today showed food services cost the state $64.5 million in fiscal year 2015, a 17.7 percent drop from 2008. However, savings were far higher when compared to other years prior to the private contract when food cost reached nearly $100 million. … The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, the union representing prison employees, has been at odds with the state and Aramark about the contract for three years. Union President Christopher Mabe said the report “should be a wake-up call. There’s still problems in our food service. I believe Aramark is undermining our prison security.” Mabe said even though Aramark is supposed to provide security during food service times, corrections officers have to fill in to make sure there are no disturbances.
OCSEA files prison food service grievance
Source: Ohio Civil Service Employees Association – AFSCME Local 11, AFL-CIO (OCSEA), July 8, 2015
OCSEA has filed a grievance against the Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction (DR&C) for dismissing the union’s food service proposal without serious review. The union submitted a bid in February to take back prison food service from private vendor Aramark and save taxpayers $2.9 million a year. Despite the significant savings–and the well-publicized troubles since Aramark took over the contract two years ago–DR&C rejected OCSEA’s proposal without a fair analysis, says the union. OCSEA has since learned that the agency did not send the union’s full proposal to the Dept. of Administrative Services (DAS) for consideration. This included the exclusion of the union’s exhaustive food cost analysis based on actual vendor bids. Without this information, DAS analysts based their review on food costs from several years ago, arbitrarily adding a 42 percent upcharge to the proposal, says union food service team member Christine Minney. …
Ohio officials nix union’s offer to provide prison food
Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch, June 24, 2015
Ohio prison officials rejected a labor-union plan to provide inmate food service, which the union says would have saved taxpayers $2.9 million annually. The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association said the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction turned down the union’s food-service bid of $1.216 per inmate meal, lower than the $1.275 figure the state is paying Aramark Correctional Services, a private company. A review by the Department of Administrative Services — the business arm of state government — found numerous flaws in the union proposal, including failing to consider higher employee wages under a new union contract and lowballing the cost of food. … Union President Christopher Mabe complained the state rigged the process to sink the union’s $60.5 million bid. “We believe this was a deliberate attempt to ignore our proposal, because we were clearly the cheaper option. We were simply not given serious consideration or any of the allowances that Aramark had been given, and we are deeply disappointed,” Mabe said in a statement.
State dismisses union food service proposal without serious review
Source: Ohio Civil Service Employees Association – AFSCME Local 11, AFL-CIO (OCSEA), Press Release, June 23, 2015
Exactly five months to the day after the state’s Corrections union submitted a food service bid to take back prison food service from the troubled vendor, Aramark, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction informed the union by email and phone today that the union bid was not accepted. The proposal by the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association came in at $1.216 per meal, well below Aramark’s cost of $1.275 and would have saved $2.9 million a year over the contractor. ….
Ohio prison union fights to replace troubled food vendor
Source: Jona Ison, Gannett Ohio, March 7, 2015
State prison officials have a decision to make regarding inmate food: rehire union employees or keep the private vendor that resulted in a 50 percent increase in inmate grievances and 70 percent jump in employee discipline. The Ohio Civil Services Employees Association is hoping the third time is a charm in its attempt to regain about 400 positions across the state. For the first time, the union says it can beat Aramark’s bargain price the state said saved $13.3 million last fiscal year and is projected to save $16.9 million this fiscal year, which ends June 30. A decision on who will prepare more than 136,000 meals a day is expected to come this month. Although the Aramark contract runs through June 30, the state can sign a new contract April 1 and had given the union a March 1 deadline on a new proposal. OCSEA President Chris Mabe is confident members have put together a solid plan to win back food services….
Despite maggots, Prisons aim to renew food contract
Source: Jona Ison, Gannett.com, January 26, 2015
Maggots in prison food and sexual misconduct with inmates haven’t turned officials off of renewing the state’s food service contract with Aramark. The current contract expires June 30 but was written in a way for the state to easily re-up for another two years without rebidding or renegotiating the contract. The Department of Administrative Services, which handles state contracts, confirmed that the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction requested the contract be renewed, and a letter was drafted Oct. 30 and sent to Aramark. The renewed contract can’t be signed, though, until April 1 at the earliest, prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said. ….
State Renews Contract With Troubled Prison Food Service Provider
Source: Jim Letizia, WCBE, January 25, 2015
Public records show the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections agreed to renew a two-year contract with the troubled food-service contractor, Aramark Correctional Services, on October 30th. The department did not publicize the contract’s renewal. The Ohio Department of Administrative Services is handling the 110 million dollar contract. Aramark began feeding prison inmates in September 2013. Since then, problems with maggots in kitchens and unserved food, staffing and food shortages, and inappropriate employee conduct with inmates have been reported at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville and other prisons….
Officials quietly agree to renew food-service pact with Aramark
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, January 24, 2015
State prison officials quietly agreed nearly three months ago to renew a two-year contract with their often-criticized food-service contractor, Aramark Correctional Services, to continue to prepare meals for nearly 51,000 inmates. …. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and Aramark agreed on Oct. 30 to renew a contract through mid-2017 at the same cost of $110 million — a meal cost of about $3.60 per day per inmate. The contract was to expire June 30….
IN-DEPTH COVERAGE: More than 100 food workers banned from state prisons
Source: Amanda Seitz and Josh Sweigart, Dayton Daily News, September 28, 2014
More than 100 food-service employees have been banned from state prisons for violations such as smuggling cellphones or drugs and sexually abusing inmates during the first year of a contractor’s deal to feed state prisoners, an investigation by this newspaper found. Taxpayers have saved more than $13 million since Philadelphia-based Aramark took over the job in September 2013, but the agreement with the state of Ohio has been tarnished with maggot-ridden food and security concerns. State records show 62 food workers were fired and banned from working in prisons over innapropriate relationships with inmates. Two Aramark employees “struck inmate with food” while others were accused of security violations or bringing inmates contraband…. The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, which previously provided food service at the state’s 26 prisons, proposed to a legislative watchdog agency that it could take back the contract and next year save the state more than $12 million….
113 food workers banned from state prisons for smuggling, sex crimes, other violations
Source: Norwalk Reflector, September 29, 2014
Taxpayers have saved more than $13 million since private company took over the job. More than 100 food-service employees have been banned from state prisons for violations such as smuggling cellphones or drugs and sexually abusing inmates during the first year of a contractor’s deal to feed state prisoners, an investigation by this newspaper found….
Meal contractor Aramark below state standards at 7 Ohio prisons
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, September 8, 2014
State prison officials’ “aggressive and unprecedented monitoring” of Aramark Correctional Services, the vendor serving meals to inmates, reveals that the food service is struggling to meet state standards at seven prisons. The most-recent inspections of Aramark meal service by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction shows that officials generally are satisfied with what is placed before inmates at most of the 26 state-run prisons. …. The state has fined Aramark $272,300 for a variety of violations since it took over food-service operations from unionized prison employees last fall under a two-year $110 million contract that promised to save the state millions.
Inmates seek food outside cafeteria
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, August 31, 2014
Junk food and cell-made meals cobbled together with commissary items appear to be the preferred bill of fare for some Ohio inmates with distaste for the prison-provided food. Purchases at prison commissaries have jumped since Aramark Correctional Services took over meal service last fall, with some prisoners complaining about food quality and quantity. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has fined Aramark $272,300 in ordering it to fix problems while accepting shared responsibility for the presence of maggots in some food-service areas. A Dispatch analysis of commissary food-sales figures suggests that some inmates are using their limited pocketbooks to vote on the desirability of prison meals that Aramark provides at a cost of $3.61 a day per inmate. At Noble Correctional Institution near Caldwell in southeastern Ohio, monthly commissary food sales have increased an average of 14.5 percent since unionized prison employees stopped making meals….
Calls continue to end prison food contract /Prison inspector suggests researching new vendors
Source: Jona Ison, Marion Star, August 23, 2014
The director of state prison inspections has recommended the state begin researching prison food vendors after a series of well-publicized incidents including maggots in food. The Correctional Institution Inspection Committee this week received a compilation of preliminary recommendations submitted after a late July update on problems with Aramark. The food service vendor took over operations in Ohio’s prisons in September and has been fined a combined $272,200 for contract violations that came to a public head after reports of maggots in or around prison food….
Ohio prisons may invite food service inspections
Source: Associated Press, August 8, 2014
Ohio’s prisons agency is developing plans to invite local health inspections of each prison’s food service operations in the wake of complaints about problems including maggots in kitchen areas.
Prison director takes responsibility for some maggot problems
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, August 7, 2014
Union leaders and legislative aides were watching workers power-wash the kitchen of the Ohio Reformatory for Women yesterday afternoon when maggots floated out from beneath steel floor plates. Prisons Director Gary Mohr then told The Dispatch that his agency accepts shared responsibility with meal contractor Aramark Correctional Services for conditions that have spawned maggots at the Marysville prison. ….
Inmates protest maggots by throwing away lunches /Fly larvae were found under a stainless-steel serving line during a pre-meal inspection
Source: Norwalk Reflector/Columbus Dispatch, August 6, 2014
Protesting another discovery of maggots, about 1,000 inmates at the Ohio Reformatory for Women at Marysville dumped their lunches in the trash yesterday. The fly larvae were found under a stainless-steel serving line during a pre-meal inspection, and the area was sanitized, said JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. However, after the report circulated among the 2,700 prisoners, about 1,000 women dumped their lunches, which consisted of macaroni and ham, coleslaw, greens, an apple and bread, she said. ….. The report of maggots was the second in the Marysville prison and the eighth confirmed case in a state prison this year. Maggots also were found yesterday on a shelf near the meal serving line at the Trumbull Correctional Institution near Warren in northeastern Ohio, Smith said. …
Lawmakers Hear About Food, Security Problems In Prisons Blamed On Private Vendor
Source: Karen Kasler, Ohio Public Radio, July 30, 2014
There are problems with maggots, food shortages and contraband in state prisons, and the committee that inspects those facilities is blaming a private vendor hired by the prison system. The head of the state’s prison inspection team told lawmakers on the panel that oversees it Wednesday that there are problems with Aramark related to sanitation, food quality and supply, security training, staffing and documentation. ….. AJ Frame says he’s seen the maggot problem firsthand where he works as a corrections officer at the Noble Correctional Institution in southeast Ohio…… The Ohio Civil Service Employees Union says if the prisons department is spending resources to deal with these issues, it doubts Aramark is saving the state much money at all….
Ohio slaps 2nd fine on Aramark for prison food problems
Source: Associated Press, July 31, 2014
The state on Wednesday announced a second fine against the private vendor – Philadelphia-based Aramark – that took over the job of feeding inmates last year as the company defended its operations before a prisons oversight committee. The $130,200 fine against Aramark Correctional Services covered continued staffing shortages, unacceptable food substitutions and shortages and sanitation issues, including maggots observed in food service operations at five prisons this month and last, according to Ohio’s July 23 letter to the company….
Ohio prison director gives food vendor ultimatum after reports of maggots
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, July 31, 2014
Prison inmates are not going to give four stars to the food when the combined cost of their three daily meals amounts to less than the price of a Big Mac. However, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction director told lawmakers yesterday that its food-service vendor must clean up its act — and its food — or face the loss of its contract. Director Gary Mohr revealed that Aramark Correctional Services was fined $130,200 last week — on top of a previous $142,100 fine — for ongoing problems including lack of cleanliness, food shortages and other contract violations….
Legislative committee will hear update on complaints facing Ohio prisons food vendor
Source: Associated Press, July 30, 2014
The state on Wednesday announced a second fine against the private vendor that took over the job of feeding inmates last year as the company defended its operations before a prisons oversight committee. The $130,200 fine against Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services covered continued staffing shortages, unacceptable food substitutions and shortages and sanitation issues, including maggots observed in food service operations at five prisons this month and last, according to Ohio’s July 23 letter to the company….
Legislative committee to hear update on complaints facing Ohio prisons food vendor
Source: Associated Press, July 26, 2014
A legislative committee is getting updates on complaints facing the private food vendor that won the contract to feed Ohio inmates. Reports indicate employees with Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services have repeatedly failed to provide food or run out of it since beginning work last September.
Maggots in food among new prison food complaints
Source: Associated Press, July 15, 2014
Maggots in food, staffing shortages and reports of running out of foods are among new complaints facing the vendor that won the contract to feed Ohio inmates. Reports obtained by the Associated Press through records requests found numerous problems reported since April, when the state took the rare step of fining the vendor because of contract failures…At issue is a bigger national debate over privatizing prison services — from food preparation to the running of entire facilities — to save money at a time of squeezed state budgets. Proponents say private industry can often do the job more efficiently and more cheaply, unencumbered by union and administrative rules, while opponents say a focus on the bottom line leads to cutting corners that creates danger for inmates and employees….
Maggots in food, running out of food among new complaints facing Ohio prisons food vendor
Source: Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Associated Press, July 15, 2014
Maggots in food, staffing shortages and reports of running out of foods are among new complaints facing the vendor that won the contract to feed Ohio inmates. Reports obtained by The Associated Press through records requests found numerous problems reported since April, when the state took the rare step of fining the vendor because of contract failures. The records show 65 instances where Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services failed to provide food or ran out of it — usually the main course, such as hamburgers or chicken patties — while serving inmates, leading to delays and in some cases security concerns as inmates grew frustrated. Substitute items were provided in most cases.
Maggots found in third Ohio prison kitchen
Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch, July 10, 2014
Maggots turned up at a third Ohio prison yesterday, prompting officials at the Noble Correctional Institution in Caldwell to shut down a food line and throw away food. The maggots, which are fly larvae, were not in the food but were seen crawling out of drains in the serving equipment on the food line, said Jo Ellen Smith, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. …. All Ohio prisons have food service provided by Aramark Correctional Services, the Philadelphia company that feeds inmates under a $110 million state contract.
Maggots Found In Food At Prisons In Marysville, Trumbull County
Source: Steve Brown, WOSU, July 8, 2014
Newly-unveiled documents show maggots have been found in food and serving equipment at two Ohio prisons. Documents obtained by the Columbus Dispatch shows Aramark Correctional Services, the private company the feeds Ohio inmates, said maggots were found in food at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. Another report from June said live maggots were found in a warming tray at a Trumbull county prison.
Maggots found in kitchen at Trumbull Co. prison
Source: WKBN, July 8, 2014
Tuesday, an Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Spokesperson confirmed to WKBN that her department is concerned about the food service provided to several state prisons by Aramark. Ohio DRC Communications Chief JoEllen Smith said that Aramark has made plans to have a third-party organization inspect their food preparation. Workers found maggots on food preparation devices twice within the past week, once at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio and once at the Trumbull Correctional Institute in Leavittsburg, Ohio. Tuesday, the ACLU of Ohio urged the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) to end its contract with Aramark Correctional Services, the prison system’s private food vendor, according to a press release from the ACLU….
Ohio Should End Contract with Prison Private Food Vendor /New Reports of Maggots in Prison Food Emerge After Months of Problems with Aramark
Source: ACLU of Ohio, Press Release, July 8, 2014
Today, the ACLU of Ohio urged the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) to end its contract with Aramark Correctional Services, the prison system’s private food vendor, after months of documented problems. News reports on Monday indicated that maggot infestations were found in Aramark food in two Ohio prisons, including two separate incidents at the Ohio Reformatory for Women and one incident at the Trumbull Correctional Institution. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated problem for Aramark in Ohio.
Maggots found in food at two Ohio prisons
Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch, July 8, 2014
Food and serving equipment contaminated with live maggots have been found at two Ohio prisons. Aramark Correctional Services, the private company that feeds inmates under a $110 million state contract, said maggots found at the Ohio Reformatory for Women at Marysville on June 30 were “one issue that was resolved last week.” However, reports obtained by The Dispatch show two previous incidents of maggots, which are fly larvae, at prisons earlier this year. …..
Vendor fined $142,100 for prison-meal problems
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, April 19, 2014
The vendor that feeds state prison inmates was fined $142,100 yesterday for contract violations that include failing to hire enough workers to prepare and serve meals. But the union that represents the 341 government workers replaced by employees of Aramark Correctional Services claims that the problems following the privatization of prison food service go much deeper. Since Sept. 26, state officials have banned 76 Aramark employees from prisons for “serious misconduct” that includes unspecified relationships with inmates, security violations and importing contraband….
Ohio lawmaker wants private prison vendor canned
Source: Associated Press, April 21, 2014
An Ohio state lawmaker says the state prisons department should terminate its contract with a private food service operator after fining the company last week for repeatedly failing to meet promised staffing levels. Democratic state Rep. Matt Lundy said Monday that deficiencies identified in Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services’ performance reaffirm his and other opponents’ concerns about privatization. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction fined Aramark $142,100 Friday. The private food vendor took over feeding Ohio’s 50,000 prisoners from state employees in September. The contract goes to June 30, 2015. The ACLU says the fine should trigger a reevaluation of the deal….
OCSEA questions timing of food service fine; says more proof DR&C has lost control
Source: OCSEA, Press Release, April 18, 2014
With just two business days before an arbitration begins between the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association and the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction on the privatization of prison food service, the agency has fined vendor Aramark $142,000 for failing to adequately staff food operations. But the union is questioning DR&C’s motives, particularly since one of the largest arbitrations the union has ever undertaken is set to start next week. “What took them so long? It’s not as if understaffing just began. Aramark has never adequately staffed food service,” questioned OCSEA President Christopher Mabe. Prison employees have logged thousands of incidents caused by the food service changeover including: menu substitutions; food line delays; doctoring recipes; poor food quality; small portions; sanitation and food safety; cost increases; reduction in service; and security issues. The most serious issues involve the increase in security breaches, including a sharp rise in contraband, inappropriate sexual relationships between Aramark staff and inmates, as well as theft….
DR&C returns prison food service to vendor that overcharged state by $2 million in 1998 / DYS to retain state-operated food service
Source: OCSEA, Press Release, June 21, 2013
Despite a competitive bid from the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association to save 11 percent on inmate meal costs without sacrificing safety or jobs, the Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction announced that an out-of-state private company will oversee food service operation in Ohio’s state-run adult prisons. Approximately 500 food service employees will be impacted by the change. The Dept. of Youth Services will retain state-operated food service. The private company, Aramark, had previously been charged with overseeing food service operations at Noble Correctional Institution from 1998 to 2000. Their failed tenure resulted in rampant cost overruns, security problems and fraud, including charging the state for phantom inmates. With near-riot conditions as result, DR&C asked that OCSEA bring food services back in-house at a savings of 20 percent.
SOCF union expects loss of 27 food service jobs
Source: Frank Lewis, Portsmouth Daily Times, June 25, 2013
State to privatize prison food service to close budget gap
Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch Friday June 21, 2013
Ohio will privatize prison food service this fall in a $110 million deal
Source: Stan Donaldson, Plain Dealer, June 21, 2013
Ohio Prisons Plan To Privatize Meal Service To Save Money
Source: Associated Press, June 23, 2013
…Philadelphia-based Aramark won the two-year contract with a bid to spend about $3.61 per day per inmate, the state said….
State skips union, picks private food service
Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch, June 23, 2013
Could Ohio’s plan to privatize prison food cause deadly riots to erupt?
Source: Julie Kent, Cleveland Dealer, February 11, 2013
Governor John Kasich is planning to hire a private food vendor to feed the 50,179 inmates in the Ohio prison system in an effort to cut costs. The Kasich administration argues that outsourcing prison food will save the state as much as $16 million, but some suggest that it could come with another kind of cost and put the safety of its prison workers in jeopardy.
Switching to a private vendor to supply the state’s prisons with food could make notoriously unappetizing prison food even more unappealing. Private vendors, unlike state-run cafeterias, are permitted to skip the federal nutrition guideliens for school lunches at the juvenile detention facilities that they serve. They’re permitted to skimp on food quantity, quality, and staffing, all in the name of profit….
DRC calls for cutbacks and outsourcing at state prisons
Source: Frank Lewis, Portsmouth Daily Times, February 6, 2013
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will look for ways to cut costs and that will mean, among other things, a Request for Proposal for prison food service operations statewide. In a letter to prison officials, DRC Director Gary Mohr said austerity measures are going to be required nearly across the board and among those costs is food service within prisons such as Southern Ohio Correctional facility at Lucasville.