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Inmates to continue to get three meals a day

June 25, 2009|By DANIELLE CINTRON

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Maryland inmates will continue to get three meals a day despite some states' decision to cut back on prison menus, a prison official said.

In Georgia, the Department of Corrections recently eliminated lunch on Fridays for prison inmates, whittling the three-meal week down to four days. Ohio was considering replacing weekend breakfast with brunch, and other states such as Alabama are reducing the milk and fresh fruit served at the prisons to save the state money.

"The (Maryland) inmates will continue to receive nutritionally adequate meals three times a day, and as far as I know, we are not facing any cuts," said Mark A Vernarelli, director of public information for the Maryland department of public safety and correctional services.

The State of Maryland can feed the more than 23,500 Division of Correction inmates at a cost of just $3.18 per day for all three meals combined, Vernarelli said.

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"These meals are nutritionally balanced, meeting or exceeding all daily requirements for vitamins, minerals, calcium, fiber, etc., as determined by the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine-National Academies," Vernarelli said. "We take nutritional needs seriously because, after all, we are responsible for the well-being of many men and women."

Vernarelli also said at one point Maryland looked into the cost-effectiveness and nutritional issues associated with doing two meals a day and found it would cost more than the current three meals.

"The Division of Correction budgets about $17 million to 18 million annually to feed inmates," he said. "We do not plan any cuts in food service, but of course, (we) always look at ways to reduce our costs in every area. Food service (in Maryland) is a very efficient operation."

Maj. Martin V. Evans, warden of the Washington County Detention Center, said the prisoners there also would continue receive three meals a day.

"We're weathering the storm OK," Evans said. "It's unusual that (other states) are cutting meals. Nothing is impossible, but there won't be cuts right now."

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