Denver Sheriff Division Defends Meals Contract with Aramark Amid inmate complaints about “rotten meals” – CBS Denver
DENVER (CBS4) The Denver Sheriff’s Department is defending its decision to discontinue Aramark Correctional Services, a private company providing food services to prisons and prisons. The Denver Post first reported that inmates in Jefferson and Arapahoe prisons complained that the Aramark food was expired, stored at improper temperatures, and in under-portioned portions.
Denver City Council will vote on the $ 9 million deal between the city and Aramark on Monday. If approved, the two-year contract begins on July 1 with the option of three further extensions for one year.
“Sheriff Diggins and Chief Line are confident that Aramark, a grocery company providing food services in 22 countries and approximately 400 domestic customers, will provide quality meals to those we care and our employees,” said the Denver Sheriff’s Department. “We have safeguards in place to ensure this and look forward to a successful transition.”
The sheriff’s department says the Aramark contract is necessary because fewer low-security inmates are allowed to work in prison kitchens. DSD officials say the decline was due to conviction trends during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mississippi Prisons terminated their contract with Aramark in April. A lawyer representing 230 inmates said the food at the Mississippi State Penitentiary is often “spoiled, rotten, molded or undercooked” and that the portion sizes are too small. In Michigan, maggots were reportedly found twice in a prison dining area in 2014.
The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office has employed Aramark for at least 15 years. In a lawsuit filed in 2019, an Arapahoe County inmate alleged he was malnourished.
“There are days when the only significant source of protein is some lunchtime meat in your lunch sack, which is probably about a dozen grams. This is not enough protein for good health and maintenance, nor sufficient nutrition in general, ”the detainee wrote in the complaint. “Not only is this a gastric discomfort problem, it can actually lead to critically low blood sugar levels and other major nutritional deficiencies.”
An ACSO spokesman told CBS4 that inmate safety is a priority: “When food quality / safety questions arise, our prison command will refer those questions to Aramark for an answer.”
In a lawsuit filed in December against the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Aramark, an inmate alleged that they found metal filings in a brownie. JCSO confirmed the incident, saying that the blender used to make the brownies was being serviced by the sheriff’s office.
“I was told the blender was broken for some time,” the inmate wrote in the ad. “The sergeant said Aramark shouldn’t have used the blender.”
In a statement to CBS4, Aramark said, “Allegations made in inmate lawsuits do not accurately reflect the work of our staff or the quality of what we do to those we serve.”
DSD plans to appoint a member of its executive team to oversee Aramark’s hospitality operations. The Sheriff’s Department says Aramark must comply with the Denver Food Establishment Regulations and regular city health inspections. DSD inmates can also complain about the meal service through the department’s complaints and incident review team.
The Sheriff’s Department says it has voluntary accreditations with the American Correctional Association and the National Commission on Corrections Healthcare. According to documents, the department plans to hire Steritech to conduct a third party food safety audit every year.