Comparing bad food to prison grub is becoming a thing of the past. That’s because several new farm-to-prison programs are incorporating locally-grown food onto jail menus at several facilities across the country.
As more and more of these initiatives sprout up, the hope is that not only will they improve the health of inmates, but reduce recidivism rates as well. Here’s a look at some leading the pack.
San Diego’s Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility
The Farm and Rehabilitation Meals (FARM) program, which began this year, designates three acres of prison land as a community garden for the inmates. Twenty prisoners work the land and are assisted by prison staff gardeners and volunteers, according to Sustainable Cities Collectible. The garden’s fresh fruits and vegetables are added to the inmates’ meals, and the surplus is donated to local food banks.
The program cost $4,000 to start and was funded solely by private donors. The prison hopes that working in the garden will give the prisoners agricultural skills to help them find jobs upon release.
Vermont Department of Corrections
In 2012, the Vermont Department of Corrections started a partnership with Salvation Farms. Through it, locally-grown potatoes and apples have been added to jailhouse menus, and inmates have participated in the food-processing experience. Since then, 141,000 pounds of food has been planted, grown, harvested and processed by the inmates. Of that, about 2,000 pounds has been consumed by prisoners, with the rest donated to food banks, schools and other local institutions.
Montana Women’s Prison
Using local beans, breads, cereal, eggs, meat and milk, this facility spends about $60,000 a year on local food — 30 percent of its food budget. Started back in 2007, the prison’s local food program has grown to include an on-premise greenhouse, which boosts production and trains inmates in gardening and food production.
With these programs, prisons are equipping inmates with more than just a high quality meal — they’re giving them a second chance.
To learn about more farm to prison programs, click here.