After Prison Populations Spiked, Food Behind Bars Became Extra Dangerous

disposable eco friendly food packaging
Zain Murdock
January 15, 2024

When the Nixon and Reagan administrations implemented anti-Black rhetoric and policy, prison populations skyrocketed in the 70s and 80s. That meant more mouths to feed, causing a shift from over 100 million contracts with local food producers to multinational food service corporations. 

They aimed to spend the least to feed as many as possible.

However, their definition of “possible” likely differs from most. Corporations and prisons claim to fulfill incarcerated people’s basic needs. But that imposed authority, much like the carceral system itself, doesn’t amount to much.

Sodexo, which also provides meals to hospitals and schools, is responsible for serving cold food and food with horse DNA.

Aramark, served food from the trash, maggot-ridden meals, and mold. Their employees have also sexually exploited incarcerated people. 

And Trinity Services Group had to answer to millions of penalty dollars for sanitary violations, unauthorized food substitutions, meal delays, and more.

Prison food systems are self-regulated. So, the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture don’t conduct inspections, nutritional checks, and safety verifications. 

And, even after leaving prison, 91% of formerly incarcerated people experience food insecurity.

Prison systems and food corporations are not a voice of authority over our health. Incarcerated people know what standards for food safety should be - and we should follow their resistance.

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