If you talk to most prisoners, they will tell you that they cannot remember the number of times forced to go to bed hungry due to poor food in prisons.
You might find them taking things like processed meat slices, bread, and mashed potatoes that are always cold and lack salt for dinner.
Most of them can count the vegetables on their plates during meals or the strings of beans they have every day. Others have gone as far as depending on the number of peas on their plates. This shows that most prisons do not offer healthy foods to their prisoners.
This is a common occurrence across most prisons in the United States of America. Most of them have no choice but to do this for them to be able to meet their low budget allocations.
Looking at some of the most common chronic illnesses among prisoners, you will find heart problems, diabetes, and high blood pressure associated with obesity. Obesity is, in turn, linked to high carb and processed foods offered in prisons.
It, therefore, means that prisons should ensure that prisoners eat healthy foods even on a budget. There are several benefits associated with this, key among them;
Savings on Prison Security
When there are protests in American prisons, prisoners often protest against deteriorating quantities and qualities of foods.
The past few years have seen a spark in riots related to dietary discontent among prisoners in different states in the U.S.
For instance, in North Carolina, prisoners hung a banner that they made themselves, raising their demands for better and healthy food.
Some prison officials have been forced to adhere to these demands. For example, in York County Jail, prison officials have made sure that inmate rights such as proper food, knowing their release dates, and the ability to be located by their relatives are observed.
This has helped them save a lot of money on prison security since the prisoners do not have any reason for protesting.
Saves Money on Healthcare
Most prisons in the U.S. offer poor food to prisoners to save money. However, this ends up costing the general public more in the long run. For instance, five years ago research established that health care is the second-largest expense in public prisons after staffing.
Improving a person’s diet, whether in prison or not, is important in making sure that they are healthy. This means that prison officials need to devise a way of ensuring that prisoners have access to the right meals at all times.
With that, they will save a lot of money that is spent on healthcare and use it in doing other essential things.
Engaging Prisoners in Valuable Programs
Providing prisoners with healthy foods does not mean that the government will spend more money getting the foods. Years ago, farm labour was a common punishment for prisoners in rural lockups.
Today, prison officials can introduce programs that focus on setting up small-scale farms and gardens around their prisons. This can be important in ensuring that prisoners consume meals from plants they have grown themselves.
In addition, these kinds of programs play a vital role when reducing recidivism rates, improving the mental health of prisoners, and providing them with skills that they can use when released from prison.
It is, therefore, important to provide healthy foods to prisoners.