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Indiana Prisoners Refusing Lunches: Call for Solidarity

Indiana
Indiana Prisoners Refusing Lunches: Call for Solidarity

From comrades in Indiana

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 (Central Time Zone), 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) 232-5171 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 a
quarter 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 indianaprisonersolidarity@gmail.com 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 was
cutting 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.

Read more on Prison Legal News.

Earlier last year, Aramark hit the spotlight in Michigan, as well, when Detroit Free Press reported they were skimping on meals.

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