The Crawford County Sheriff’s Department has selected a different meal provider for county jail inmates this year in a cost-savings move, Sheriff Dale McCullick explained this week.
McCullick decided to switch to meals prepared at the Vernon County Jail kitchen by the Aramark Corporation beginning Sunday, Jan. 1, from meals prepared by the Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital. The sheriff estimates changing meal providers will save the county about $50,000 per year.
Aramark provides three meals per day at a cost of $1.56 per meal. They are delivered in the late afternoon by a private contractor at an average cost of 60 cents per meal. This brings the county’s total cost of a jail meal to $2.16. The service includes a cold breakfast, cold lunch and hot supper.
By contrast, the local hospital was preparing to raise the price of its meals by 6.8 percent in 2012. That meant the hospital would have charged $3.11 for a cold breakfast; $5.22 for a hot lunch and $3.92 for a cold supper or the sack lunches provided to Huber prisoners at work away from the jail.
McCullick emphasized that the switch in meal providers was strictly a matter of economics for the sheriff’s department and in no way was it based on any dissatisfaction with the hospital’s service or food. In fact, McCullick acknowledged that prisoners preferred the hospital’s cold meal to Aramark’s cold meal because the hospital provided more variety. Aramark’s lunch is always a baloney sandwich, small salad, bag of chips and a cookie.
A non-Huber prisoner’s meals with a 6.8 percent increase from the hospital would’ve cost the county $13.06 per day, while the Aramark meals prepared in Viroqua and delivered to Prairie du Chien cost $6.48 per day. That’s $6.58 less than the hospital meals.
Last year, the county spent $117,299 on inmate meals, while this year they would pay $59,676 for the same meals through Aramark for a savings of $57,623, according to McCullick.
By signing a contract for the meals with Aramark, the sheriff’s department is also eligible to receive discounts on police supplies through Galls and jail supplies through Bob Barker Inc. Aramark owns both companies.
One advantage of the new meals is that Huber law prisoners released for daytime employment will now receive a hot meal at supper after their return. Previously, dayshift Huber prisoners did not receive a hot meal since it was served at lunch, while they were at work. Those inmates ate a cold sack lunch provided by the hospital for Huber prisoners working day jobs.
While not all Huber prisoners work dayshift hours more work those hours than other shifts, McCullick noted.