Santa Barbara County Jail (April 2012)

Paul Wellman

Santa Barbara County Jail (April 2012)

Too Much Soy, Not Enough Meat?

Supervisors Take Hard Look at Jail Food

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
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As Santa Barbara finds itself in the throes of an ever-escalating foodie revolution, it’s not surprising that the institutional fare served to inmates at County Jail has become the subject of increasing protest. For the second time in as many months, a sizable minority of detainees are now conducting a food strike. According to Commander Darin Fotheringham, about 20 percent of the inmates are now participating. Last month, he said, about one-third (200-300, he estimated) participated in a strike that lasted one day.

Those who claim to speak for those behind bars say inmates complain that portions are way too small and that way too frequently soy products are substituted for meat products, however processed. Last year, the Sheriff’s Office opted to contract out jail food services with Aramark Correctional Services, a branch of the largest institutional food conglomerate in the world, in hopes of cutting food costs by $150,000 a year. Given the jail’s expanding population, it’s doubtful those savings will be realized, but given Aramark’s vast size, the company has still been able to cut the cost per meal from $1.30 to 90 cents. And given that the jail serves about 1.2 million meals a year, that adds up.

Officials insist such savings are achieved because of the company’s ability to buy cheap and the precision with which it enforces portion control. But critics contend the company’s portion management leaves many inmates hungry, as has the company’s increasing reliance on soy products. Fotheringham acknowledged that soy serves as the protein base for hot dinners three to four evenings a week. But he insisted that the average jail bill-of-fare — 2,511 calories per day — more than meets all federal minimum standards regarding caloric and vitamin intake for moderately active adults. He acknowledged that fruit — which used to be served daily — has been replaced by cut vegetables, explaining that the fruit was used to make a fermented and intoxicating jailhouse beverage known as “pruno.”

Still, at a presentation before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning, Fotheringham acknowledged that the number of inmate complaints about food under Aramark has increased. In the past 12 months, he said, there have been 20 such complaints. In the 12 months before Aramark assumed the contract, there were only four. While statistically that constitutes a 500 percent jump, Fotheringham noted that with 1.2 million meals being served, he’d have expected more dramatic numbers if things were as bad as critics contend.

Supervisor Doreen Farr wasn’t quite buying it. She expressed concern over corners potentially cut by Aramark’s savings of 40 cents a meal. And Supervisor Janet Wolf expressed concern at the public safety implications of a County Jail packed to the gills with hungry inmates. “People up here,” she said referring to the supervisors’ dais, “get a little cranky if they’re hungry.” Several women with loved ones in the County Jail said conditions there were far worse than Fotheringham acknowledged. One woman said her 30-year-old son constantly lobbies her to put more money into his commissary account so he can buy extra food. One man said the food in County Jail looked “like it had been vomited onto a tray.” Suzanne Riordan, an advocate for the mentally ill, said she’d been told that meat served in the County Jail is so processed that it’s impossible to tell what animal it came from. She expressed concern about the reliance on soy products given that soy has been the target of so much genetic modification. Andy Caldwell, spokesperson for COLAB, a conservative watchdog organization, opined to those inside the jail complaining about the food, “If you do not like the food, don’t come back.”

Sheriff Bill Brown and County CEO Chandra Wallar sought to reassure the supervisors by describing their experience eating a tray of “Farmhouse Stew” courtesy of the County Jail. “Perhaps ‘tasty’ is a little strong,” said Wallar. “But it was not distasteful either.” She added the serving proved sufficiently generous she could only finish about half, adding, “For much of it, I’d serve it in my own home.” Sheriff Brown was more restrained, noting that institutional food is invariably the subject of some discontent.

Supervisors Farr and Wolf made it clear they were far from mollified. Farr in particular pushed Fotheringham on keeping a keen eye on opportunities to reopen the county’s seven-year contract with Aramark. And Wolf wanted to know why the company had not sprung for the new — and desperately needed — sewage system under the jail kitchen that she thought the contract called for. (She was assured no health or sanitary liability existed, but that the jails’ sewage needs were bigger, more complicated, and more expensive than previously understood.)

Fotheringham also questioned whether the food strike was really motivated by concerns over portions. He noted that this week’s hunger strike happens to coincide with similar actions now taking place in many state prisons throughout California. And he suggested last month’s food strikers miscalculated when the strike was supposed to start by about one month. By the meeting’s end, Fotheringham would concede one point. “It appears portions may be a little bit smaller,” he said.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

So the inmates used fruit to make "pruno", eh? Really?

I've heard of inmates in state or federal prison making fermented beverages, but county jail? Are we really supposed to believe that "commander" Fotheringham has so little control over "his" jail that prisoners are able brew up significant amounts of alcohol?

It's interesting that the "commander" doesn't bother to explain just exactly when, where and how this feat of chemical engineering is accomplished in a facilty such as the SB county jail.

Even more interesting would be a video of the County CEO and the Sheriff attempting to eat random samples of the glop that apparently passes for "food" at our county jail these days. But the real kicker would be to see if the average dog in a county animal shelter would be willing to eat that garbage.

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 4:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Maybe they don't want to eat because it is Ramadan.. never know..

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 4:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, isn't the obvious solution to the "pruno" problem to put the observers of Ramadan in charge of the 'cut fruit' operation? (They may not eat any fruit during Ramadan, but if they're good moslems, they certainly won't ever be brewing up batches of alcohol for the infidels, will they?)

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 4:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Perhaps after we bow to their culinary needs and produce a lavish buffet at every meal, we should then stock every toilet with wet wipes for their sensitive little bottoms, and maybe even a fuzzy blankey to snuggle up with all warm and cozy.

For those in jail, please remember: it's jail. Jail sucks. It's not meant to be comfortable and you all have waaaayyy to many luxuries at hand in their anyways.

When you get out, stop robbing, stealing,
harassing, flashing, or gang bangin'. Go and get a job, and then get a paycheck. Then go and sit at In n' Out or The Habit and have a burger. You're entitled. Enjoy.

calicaledonia (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 4:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Lavish"? Yeah right, I've never been to the jail myself, but it's a well known fact that SB county jail food has NEVER even come close to "lavish". If you're going hold people against their will, basic human decency demands that at the very least they be given food that's fit for human consumption.

Furthermore, the argument that purchasing prepared "meals" from some corporate garbage factory is somehow cheaper than buying ingredients wholsale and using inmate labor to prepare it, is questionable at best.

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 5:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It's funny to complain about food that they are getting fed for free as they are housed for free and given free medical care because of a crime that they committed! If I was arrested the last thing I would expect to get was gourmet, or even highly tasty, meals. Nutritionally sound sure but exciting meals? No. What makes them so special? If the food has the calories and the variety, this is a moot point and shouldn't be investigated further, they'll live and the food they get is better quality than some of the tax payers who pay for them to be there but can barely afford to buy their own food.

santabarbarasand (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 6:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Spiritwalker, is there any topic you actually have knowledge about, or is sounding ignorant ok with you?

ALL jails that serve fruit have problems with pruno. It's made quickly in small portions and very disgusting, but it gets them drunk. Inmates would smoke their own feces to get high if possible.

EVERYTHING is provided for these leeches and nothing is good enough. It's a shame we don't have proper mental health facilities/programs to head off incarceration for the ill, but what responsible person really cares if the irresponsible eat a lot of soy? Stay out of jail.

Ok it's spirit wankers turn to give his unsupported opinion and conspiracy theory.

Validated (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 7:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh sigh, spirityanker is at it again defending something he has zero knowledge of. His owns words usually start something like this, "I've never been to the jail myself, or read a Grand Jury report, etc., etc., etc."... "But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once!"

My God spirityanker give it a rest. Your a whiny little man constantly yapping and nipping at ones feet. BORING!!!!!

Priceless (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 7:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, if anyone had any doubt that $160,000 per year is too much to pay for some blond, bimbo halfwit, they don't any more.

I've never been to theTaj Majal in India, but I know that whatever amount of money that was spent on a building to house some dead woman, would've been much better spent feeding the starving in that country.

(And Priceless, thanks for confirming once again that I'm right on the money with my suspicions, you slimy little witch.)

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 8:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Forget your meds again?? You haven't been right on any topic. You keep trying though big boy I'm counting on you!!

Priceless (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 8:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I've been right about you being overpaid - $160,000 per year is way too much to pay for a "public information officer" who puts out almost zero information.

So, if I'm ignorant about facts that are supposedly public information, who's fault is that? Please enlighten us, Ms. PIO - where's all the facts and figures that prove a for profit company can somehow feed prisoners for less money than free inmate labor?

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 9:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Maybe if we ignore Spiritwalker sh/e will go away? Doubtful, but all these responses only serve to provoke more responses, leading to a very boring interchange.

Regarding the actual topic, if people don't like the food, then stay out of jail. These criminals have far to many privileges as it is.

Maybe we should adopt Sheriff Joe Arpajio's policy of making them all wear pink jumpsuits.

discoboy (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 9:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Maybe if we ignore spiritwalker sh/e (sic) will go away."

Duh, that might've actually worked in the beginning - but the mindless, hysterical reaction of Priceless to virtually EVERYTHING I say about the SBSO, is proof that I can see right through her pathetic lies.

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 9:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Reminds me of an old joke. Two old codgers out to eat in a restaurant complain about it.

1st codger: "this food is terrible."
2nd codger: "yes, and the servings are so small."

FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH: soy is nutritious food.

taz (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 10:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Jail food.

'Nuff said.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 11:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Many studies show that excessive genetically modified soy in the diet may lead to hormonal issues, feminizing and other health problems in men and can also be an issue for women.

I don't know any studies that focused on non-GMO organic and fermented soy, this may or may not significantly reduce the health issues that stem from excessive soy consumption. But that doesn't matter here because we know what they are getting in the prisons, it is bred and grown by corporate Monsanto farms.

I haven't seen anybody make a good argument as to why prisoners should be treated poorly in prison. It doesn't help when nearly half the people in prison are there for non-violent crimes that have no victim involved. Why should those people even be in prison?? Now you want to torture innocent people?

loonpt (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 11:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

SB County Jail used to have the best breakfast on Sundays, so much so that you would gladly go to jail on Saturday for it. Time to yelp it.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 11:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

People are conveniently forgetting that people who have not been charged, have not been indicted and thus unconvicted are also held at the jail for days at a time. If a person can;'t get bail, in jail they stay. And not all of them are found guilty.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 11:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Yeah, it sucks to be in jail.

LegendaryYeti (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 1:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

As long as the food meets minimum nutritional requirements that should be sufficient. It does not have to taste good. In many countries prisoners are not fed at government expense. Rather their families or friends or someone they pay brings food to them. I would not say someone in jail could be called "lucky," but they might ponder their luck at not serving their time in the Philippines, Indonesia, India, or anywhere in either South or Central America. Jail is not a nice place. People would be wise to avoid behaviors that might land them there.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 2:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This kind of cracks me up: "She added the serving proved sufficiently generous she could only finish about half, adding, “For much of it, I’d serve it in my own home.”

I am wondering if it is apples to oranges comparing her portion size to that of a large inmates. And I really doubt she would take a to go order to her house.

And Andy Caldwell opined! Perish the thought!

bimboteskie (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 2:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No inhumane act is complete without Caldwell's blessing.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 2:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So now the goal post is moved to what they do "in many countries"? Whatever happened to American exceptionalism? What happened to 'that shining light on the hill'?

(Not that I'm some great humanitariarian or anything, but if we're going to go around invading other countries for being mean to "their own people", such rank hipocrisy here at home is really starting to stink.)

As for "behaviors that might land one in jail" - the government now claims the right to indefinitely detain US citizens without charging any crime - please define what sort of behavior would NOT land one in jail. Is bowing to the Master all we have left?

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 2:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Treating people like animals turns them into animals.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 2:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Spiritdude, my point was that the way we treat prisoners here is exceptional (and I for one am glad that we are pretty humane to our prisoners). Three nutritious meals a day may seem pretty basic, but the point of my comparison was to show that is not the norm in many places. As for staying out of jail, that is easy. Don't hurt people, don't steal from people, obey signs, don't drink and drive, obey all traffic laws, don't buy or sell illegal drugs, don't cheat on your taxes, be kind to your dog. It's really pretty simple.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 3:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh please, there's absolutely nothing exceptional about lethal injection. Making the prisoners at Guantanamo live in a dog kennel certainly isn't exceptional. And invading Iraq for absolutely no valid reason and murdering countless inocent people sure as hell aint exceptional!

As for your "advice" on avoiding lockup, do you think I was being sarcastic when I said the government claims the right of indefinite detention without charging ANY crime (including terrorism) whatsoever, or do you just have zero reading comprehension?

Anyway, since you completely missed the point, let me spell it out for you: THERE IS NO AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM, WE"RE DOING EVERYTHING NAZI GERMANY WAS CHARGED WITH AT NUREMBURG!!!

Get it it now? Or do I need to draw you a picture.

(And isn't weird that certain people always launch into a personal attack or name calling ["spiritdude", how clever!] for no apparent reason?)

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 4:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

As usual I agree with you, Eckermann. If one simply obeys the law one does not have to be overly concerned with the nutritional value or visual appeal of jail food.

LegendaryYeti (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 5:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Spiritwalker, I meant no disrespect nor did I intend to attack you by riffing on your nom de plume. Posters refer to me as Eck all the time and I don't take offense. I agree that U.S. is not perfect in either our morals or our policies and that we have a lot of improving to do, just as other countries and other societies do. My point was simply that in the area of jail food, we do better than most and it is probably not one our problems and challenges on which we should focus a lot energy and resources. Since I live a simple and uncomplicated life and do not consort with the types of people whom the government sees as a threat to domestic security and I obey laws and am usually tucked safely in bed by 10 or 11 PM, I really don't have any fear of being indefinitely detained. If you harbor such fears, I actually feel sorry for you. Sorry that I riffed on your nom de plume. I will avoid doing so in the future.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 6:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Damn, every time I go to a conspiracy convention I miss a lot of factual information being put out by spirityanker. I will try to be brief;


I won't be so kind. Your an idiot... If you dislike this country so much leave. Nobody will stop you. There are plenty of countries that think exactly like you. Why bother living here waking up every morning getting on the Indy and blowing a gasket. You must live a pathetic little troll of a life if all you do all day is sit behind a keyboard and blow smoke up every bodies a$$.

Your troll hole must be a living hell....

Priceless (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 6:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Spit talker, or any other poster, is anyone detained for international terrorism charges in the Santa Barbara jail? I don't think so, and I don't have irrational fears about it either. All of this government conspiracy talk has nothing todo with the article. It doesn't even prove a point.

All the BOS needs to comment on is whether or not the inmates are receiving food that meets nutritional guidelines. I doubt anyone cares if it tastes good or not.

I would protest the wasting of additional tax payer money so inmates can be happy about their food. See what the family living paycheck to paycheck thinks about their stupid little hunger strike.

Validated (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 7:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

In all the time I've been blogging, no one has ever made fun of my name.

Spiro T (Ted) Walker.

SpiroTWalker (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 7:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)


Validated (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 7:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Spankewire, what do you think about the sequester? Do you think it's a conspiracy?? I know I'm off topic, but inmate issues are boring.....

Priceless (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 7:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

While I can't remember the details, I have heard that soy products do pose health risks for certain people--and considerable ones as well.

The elephant in the living room is the fact that we have "an expanding population" in the jail. It isn't just about Santa Barbara shoving more and more people into it's already crowded space, (to wit: "high density housing") but the fact that mentally ill people are not treated, but rather tossed in jail, and the fact that more and more laws are being passed to criminalize people.

Spiritwalker addressed the periphery of this issue by bringing up the fact that the 6th Amendment has been gutted by the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act. Spiritwalker is correct in pointing out about how people can now be thrown in jail and detained indefinetely for merely being *accused* of a crime. While I doubt if anyone in our county jail is in there for running afoul of the NDAA, the greater issue is that our society passivly accepts the idea that we have to get used to the idea of more jails, and more laws to restrain us, and when this happens, humane treatment of prisoners--whether wrongly accused or not--(and I know some people can't get it through their heads that people are sent to jail and to prison and even to their death for being wrongly accused) goes out the door.

Of course, people are too busy arguing among party lines or for their pet political issues to see the scary reality of the growing prison industry.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 7:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

PRIVATE prison industry. Farming out meals is a step in that direction.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 7:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Private prisons have proven to be abuse factories and huge liabilities because their hiring standards don't even meet federal guidelines for hiring, and WAY below local standards.

There's only one reason all county jails are bursting at the seams. With their great judicial wisdom our judges have said the state trash cans are too full. Our local trash can runneth over now. With all the money being spent on state trash our mentally ill have even less resources.

Now they protest the food. LET TH EAT POST CARDS!

Validated (anonymous profile)
July 10, 2013 at 9:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

India has long fed itself very adequately on naan and dahl. Simple, cheap and nutritious.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
July 11, 2013 at 9:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The County jail menus must be prepared monthly and must meet dietary standards. See the link below:

"Menus, as planned, including changes, shall be evaluated by a registered dietician at least annually.

Citation: Penal Code section 6030

On page 56 of the jail standards linked above, textured vegetable protein is listed as an acceptable protein source. In addition, the daily caloric count is also set forth in the jail standards.

I accept that the inmates don't like textured vegetable protein. I'm not very keen on it either so I don't eat it but then I am not in jail.

The Santa Barbara County Jail menu plan and preparation methods are inspected annually and must meet all state standards.

LHThom (anonymous profile)
July 11, 2013 at 1:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey Spiritwalker, That's ^^ what facts looks like.

Validated (anonymous profile)
July 11, 2013 at 1:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

spirityanker would have to be able to read, comprehend and understand English to know what facts look like.......

Priceless (anonymous profile)
July 11, 2013 at 6:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sweetheart, my work here is done - they're talking about your $160,000 salary over at SB edhat and it isn't good.

Don't waste your time addressing me in the future - I'm tired of arguing with someone who's mentality is that of a hysterical 15 year old girl scout.

You have nice life! (And good luck finding a new job!)

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 11, 2013 at 6:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Krill and prawns are very delicious.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
July 11, 2013 at 9:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This discussion officially ended with Spiritwalker's comment posted July 10, 2013 at 4:04 p.m, due to invoking Godwin's Law.

"Anyway, since you completely missed the point, let me spell it out for you: THERE IS NO AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM, WE"RE DOING EVERYTHING NAZI GERMANY WAS CHARGED WITH AT NUREMBURG!!!"

Sorry mate, not a personal attack, just rule of order.

Sothep (anonymous profile)
July 12, 2013 at 12:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

$160g/yr at Ed Hat??? Wow they must have high ad rates!

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 12, 2013 at 12:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"This discussion officially ended with Spiritwalker's comment posted July 10, 2013 at 4:04 p.m, due to invoking Godwin's Law."

No, you cannot do this, it's unfair. I want to continue this discussion. If this thread ends, I'll be a very sad boy today.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
July 12, 2013 at 3:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

No, this conversation officially ended when "Godwin's law" was invoked - I'm not interested in arguing that sort of tripe. But you children have fun now, okay?

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 12, 2013 at 6:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Seventh Day Adventists are healthier than the general population, eschew meat and eat a lot of textured soy protein. More young people today are vegetarian and now it is a standard option in the hospitality industry.

Nothing wrong with the dietary standards in jail, or the fact these same food groups are enthusiastically embraced now by many people on the outside.

The choice was made by the prisoner to go to jail on their own criminal acts. A little late in the game to make demands on the system they chose to join on their own volition. Better life choices are the answer; not better dietary demands after the fact.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
July 12, 2013 at 2:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you HAL.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 12, 2013 at 3:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

spirityanker you can't stop talking about me as much as you can't stop wearing that tin foil hat.

Oh, and wait spirityanker, isn't that how much you make off the taxpayers sitting on your a$$ all day talking about me???

At least I have a job that takes more than half wit opinions.....

Priceless (anonymous profile)
July 12, 2013 at 6:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That's a wit and half in some states.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 12, 2013 at 6:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Now that's funny Ken. I guess I gave him to much credit then.........

Priceless (anonymous profile)
July 14, 2013 at 7:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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