Macon County Sheriff Mark Gammons responded to complaints that were made this week about food allowances for inmates at the Macon County Jail. Several prisoners complained that they were not getting enough in a given day, and a few concerned citizens made anonymous inquiries into the matter, both at the jail and here at the Macon Co. Times.
“Minor adjustments have been due to the budget cuts that we’re being forced to make by the county court and the county Mayor,” said Gammons. “State law only requires an inmate to have two meals a day, unless they are on a work crew. And then if they’re on a work crew they get a sandwich—bologna, PB&J—while they’re working.
“However, I have noticed that our kids’ lunch at our schools have been cut due to Federal regulations, and I’m looking into putting the prisoners on the same food as our kids, because I feel that if our kids can live off of this, then our inmates can too. We follow the state calorie guidelines; it’s a dietician who does that for us. We’re in compliance.”
Guidelines mirror the estimated calorie needs laid out by the medical community—calling for between 2,200 and 3,000 calories a day for males and between 1,800 and 2,400 calories for females, depending on age and activity level.
Prisoners also have commissary allowances—meaning that family and loved ones can leave a limited amount of money into a fund for the prisoner, which he or she can use for extras like snacks and treats.
School lunch menus have been recently amended per Federal requirement to include a certain variety of nutritional components. In short, kids are getting smaller portions, with more fruits and vegetables.
“I know it’s not on the local level—it’s a Federal level, which we’re required to meet,” said Gammons, “but I feel that our kids deserve more than our prisoners. They don’t have to be in jail, but the kids do have to be in school.”
The state standards for correctional facilities that Gammons is referring to read as follows:
1. Food service guidelines and a menu pattern approved by a dietician shall be used by each facility in the preparation of meals.
2. Working prisoners shall receive at least three (3) meals every twenty-four (24) hours with no more than fourteen (14) hours between any two meals. At least two (2) of these meals shall be hot. Nonworking prisoners shall receive at least two (2) meals every twenty-four (24) hours with no more than fourteen (14) hours between any two meals.