Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Privatizing Prison Food: Cutting Costs and Irking Inmates

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 4:53 PM

There are 50,179 inmates locked up around Ohio.

To feed adult inmates, the state pours $79 million into the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's budget. Gov. John Kasich's administration is hoping to knock that down to $65.5 million each year by working with a private food vendor.

A request for proposals was issued last week. When results come back, state officials will know how close they can get to Indiana's coveted $1.19 per meal rate. (Ohio's per-meal rate is now $1.58.)

The Dayton Daily News has details regarding the state's 469 youth inmates:

The state Department of Youth Services...spends $6.18 million a year, or $27.60 per inmate per day for food service, said spokeswoman Kim Parsell. The costs are higher because youths don’t help with food prep or cooking, the meals adhere to federal guidelines for school lunches and the teen-aged detainees have higher caloric needs, she said. The state receives $5.51 per day per youth as reimbursement from the national school lunch program.

Switching to a private vendor is expected to save DYS about $1.2 million a year, she said.

But a common concern for this time of move is the fact that private contractors don't have to yield to federal nutrition guidelines. Furthermore, there's the ever-looming notion of *profit* that hangs in the air. Last year, a deadly riot broke out at a Mississippi detention center following similar turns in food quality and health.

Tags: , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 23, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.