How was your holiday picnic?
Sounds like Americans really enjoyed their picnics on the 4th! Check out these advance numbers from the National Retail Federation:
Eighty-six percent of Americans plan to celebrate Independence Day this year, spending a total $6.7 billion on food items, according to NRF’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.
Planned per person spending on food items for Independence Day: $73.33.
While we were enjoying our hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs and pork barbecues, there wasn’t any change in the menus behind bars.
After hearing those holiday statistics, I contacted the Michigan Department of Corrections Office in Lansing for an up-to-date figure on the food budget. You’ll be pleased to know that, here in Pure Michigan, "$2.85 per prisoner per day to cover all three meals is the goal for the normal menu."
I was raised in the upstairs apartment of a neighborhood grocery store, back in the 30s and 40s, and I still remember the food prices of those days. Many years later, at age 82, I do the grocery shopping for Marcia and me, and I watch for bargains. Our appetites aren’t very large anymore, but we enjoy good food. We could not make breakfast, lunch and dinner for $2.85 per person per day.
Granted, we cannot buy food in large quantities, either.
It should come as no surprise, then, that we routinely hear complaints from prisoners about food quality and taste, lack of nutritional value, and small portions.
The Marshall Project recently carried a story about prison food.
Nutritional standards at state and local facilities are governed by a patchwork of state laws, local policies, and court decisions. A Texas law requiring inmates be fed three times in 24 hours, for example, only applies to county jail inmates, not state prisoners. Some jails and prisons require low-fat or low-sodium diets, while others mandate inmates receive a certain number of calories. All detention facilities must have a licensed dietician review their menus in order to be accredited by the American Correctional Association. The association recommends — but does not mandate — that prisons offer inmates three meals a day.
For those prisoners who have adequate funds, food can be purchased for snacks, and we continually hear of creative recipes developed by inmates, often using a microwave oven. But for the poor, indigent cuss who has no money to spend, it’s meager fare, indeed.
Maybe it’s not worth talking about.
They’re just prisoners.