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States Ends Prison Food Contract With Aramark But Is New Contractor Riddled With Hunger Issues?

LANSING (CBS DETROIT) - The Snyder administration has ended it's agreement with troubled prison food provider Aramark Correctional Services.

In May, Aramark was said to be discussing contract costs and looking for a raise for service.  The administration stated the mutual release ends their current relationship.

Aramark's performance has been scrutinized due to allegations of employee misconduct and food contamination. The company has said it's working to correct any issues. The state fined the company last year.

At least three dozen Aramark employees have been banned from prisons for violations since the company took over. In one incident, an ex-food service worker was accused of trying to orchestrate the assault of an inmate.

Democrats and a liberal advocacy group had called on Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, to cancel the Aramark deal, saying problems were inevitable because of high turnover and lower pay for private workers who replaced roughly 370 state employees who lost their jobs in the outsourcing.

The governor had defended the decision to stick with the food vendor, saying the state was on pace to save $14 million a year through privatization. He also absolved Aramark of responsibility for suspected food poisoning and maggot problems.

The statement released by the Snyder administration Trinity Services Group will take over the prisoner food service for the state's prisons.

But according to an extensive report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in early 2015, Trinity Services Group may arrive with its own set of problems - hunger being the top complaint among prisoners.

As reported in the AJ-C - one prisoner said he eased hunger pangs by eating toothpaste. One complained he got so little food that he trembled at night in his cell. Another filed grievance after grievance, each consisting of a single word: "Hungry."

These complaints, all from the Gordon County Jail in Calhoun, Georgia, highlight a growing debate involving correctional institutions nationwide, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In an era of tight government budgets and little sympathy for the incarcerated, three square meals a day in jail are giving way to aggressive cost-cutting through outsourcing of food services.

For-profit companies control expenses by carefully measuring the portions in inmates' meals and, in some cases, serving food just twice a day. They charge jails and prisons as little as 75 cents a meal and seldom more than $2.

Trinity Services Group Monday released a statement saying they were looking "forward to the opportunity to serve the State of Michigan. We are thrilled to partner with Governor Snyder and the Michigan Department of Corrections to provide our quality food service to the DOC's 33 facilities."




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