Complaints from jail and prison inmates have subsided after Effingham County commissioners approved changes to the food service contract and beefed up their breakfast.
Commissioners approved at their Aug. 20 meeting an increase of 5 cents per meal, up to 90 cents, with vendor Aramark. Inmates had complained about the quality of the breakfast they were receiving, particularly the lack of any kind of meat.
“We didn’t have meat for breakfast, and that was the main issue,” Chief Deputy Richard Bush told commissioners. “We weren’t feeding the inmates enough.”
“This has led to some security concerns,” county director of community relations Adam Kobek said at the previous commissioners’ meeting. “When you’ve got 300 people upset about food quantity, that can be an issue.”
The additional 5 cents will provide fresh milk instead of a powdered calcium drink, which alternates with coffee and fruit juices, and add eggs and meat to most of the breakfast meals to provide protein.
“The breakfast wasn’t up to what it should have been,” said Effingham Prison Warden Ronald Spears, “and we expect these guys to get up at 5 o’clock and work until 5 in the evening. You’ve got to give them a good breakfast and a good lunch, and the less problems you’ll have with them.”
Aramark was awarded the contract for senior citizens, the prison and the jail food service. There have been several issues with the quantity of the meals, especially with the breakfasts.
“The five cents may not seem like a lot,” Spears said, “but we are dealing with a lot of food. It does make a big difference. It helps out a lot.”
The sheriff’s office was receiving complaints weekly about the quality and quantity of food. Under the contract, the jail and prison gave up a second breakfast sandwich, and breakfast became a lighter fare, Kobek said.
Once the complaints began, the prison and the jail bought additional food under their groceries line item to supplement meals. The two months of food cost about $4,000. Inmate recreation funds could be used to cover those expenses, according to Kobek.
The overall annual increase is expected to be about $15,000. Kobek said the increase could be covered by the existing budget, and Chairman Wendall Kessler estimated the county saved approximately $500,000 a year through its new food service contract with Aramark.