Is Prison Food Better Than School Food?

Infographic suggests we are feeding our prisoners better than our students

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Infographic deconstructs school meals versus prison meals

We’ve all heard complaints about our country’s school lunch programs. From campaigns spearheaded by childhood nutrition advocate Michelle Obama to the outcry that ensued when the nation found out the tomato sauce on pizza was considered a vegetable by USDA standards, it’s no secret that the American school lunch program has some serious issues.

Here’s an infographic from Good magazine that takes a new angle – how do our admittedly troubled school lunch programs stand up next to what we're feeding prison inmates in this country? The results are in, and they aren’t too pretty.

While schools are given an average yearly budget of 11 billion to school food programs and prisons are given a mere 205 million annual budget, still only less than one third of school food operations meet the recommended standard for saturated fat in their meals.

It turns out the stuff we’re serving our kids in school might even be worse than fast food, too. According to the figure, McDonald’s and Burger King test their ground beef five to ten times more than the USDA tests the beef sent to schools.

Certainly prison food isn’t anything to get yourself arrested for – take the Nutraloaf for example, made of whole wheat bread, non-dairy cheese, vegetables, tomato paste, powdered milk, and dry potato flakes that Vermont inmates filed a class-action lawsuit against in 2008, claiming the food was used a punishment rather than nourishment. Sounds like a reason alone to avoid incarceration.

Fortunately, the startling amount of highly processed, unhealthy foods has prompted numerous government initiatives, including the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which allows the USDA to regulate school meals nutritional content and strives to effect healthy, balanced meals for our students. Congress better keep up the good work or pretty soon students will start getting themselves arrested just to escape the slimy fruit and mystery meat any student of the public school system knows all too well.
 

Click here for the full-sized graphic.


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6 Comments

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Yes, prisoners eat better than our sturdents. I retired from the prison department 2 years ago and while workiing I monitored and assisted in preparing the food for inmates. They eat better than our students, get more balanced meals plus snack and have canteen privileges. I have two children in school now and I know what they have to eat. It is ashamed convicts eat better than our children.

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Well I know the school lunches at my Kids School are horrible, portions are so small first off, and second they make no sense of foods that go together. For instance here is the lunch my kids school served yesterday: Cheeseburger on Wheat Bun, Baked Cheetos, Sweet Potato mini tater puffs, Strawberry Cup and Milk. My Daughter told me the burger could have been used as a hockey puck, you got a total of 4 tater puffs, the baked cheetos were so nasty looking, and the Strawberry cup may have been about a tbl spoon full of rotten looking crushed strawberries, that she was glad that I packed her lunch for her yesterday. I always have my kids coming home from school saying they are starving that the food was horrible and they could not eat it or they didn't have time to eat lunch due to they were one of the last classes to get to the lunch room ( if I don't pack their lunch for them). To find out that the school only allows 18 min for lunch. So unless they are the first to get to the lunch room, or pack their lunch by the time they get through the lunch line it is time to go back to class. Even an employer must allow their workers a 1/2 hr lunch break for 8 hours but the schools only allow 18 min. How do they figure that sending over 100 students to lunch that all will get through the lunch lines get their meals and have time yet to eat in only 18 min time. Even if it only took 10 sec per student to get through the line by the time the last ones got through it would already be time to return to class if 100 students were trying to get lunch at school. They have 3 Lunches scheduled everyday at 18 min each for the students so depending on the day determines which one of the lunches you have to go to.
As for the prison my Neighbors son was in prison and she said how hard it was on her due to she always was asked to put money every week on her sons commensary fund, in which he bought extra food and items needed from (soap, shampoo, stamps). That the prison he was at the portions were so small that her son lost over 46 lbs in the six months he was there. So I can't say if one is better then another but I know our School here in Missouri the food is horrible, I try to pack lunches for my kids daily, but it is not possible everyday to do.

Debo's picture

Not only do they get fed better than the kids school lunches, they get fed better than the prison employees can feed their families! My husband retired from the prison system and I remember that for years the menu for the prisoners was only something we could have in our dreams at home! What an insult to the tax payers that pay for their luxeries! I was complaining about this 25 years ago, finally it is being recognized!

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I don't know what prison system you are talking about. Nevada up till a year ago they where fed chicken that was labeled not for human consumption !!!! The meals are mostly old dry bread, powdered eggs, and bag lunches and dinners. I have visited an inmate on holiday and the only thing that was real was the water from the fountain. I believe that all children should have honest food served to them in schools and I also believe that prisoners need to be eating real food. I am not saying they need steak. They say 90% of all inmates will be released at some time in their life. If we do not take care to feed them proper then they will be on our healthcare system the rest of their lives sucking out more taxes from us.

Debo's picture

Not only do they get fed better than the kids school lunches, they get fed better than the prison employees can feed their families! My husband retired from the prison system and I remember that for years the menu for the prisoners was only something we could have in our dreams at home! What an insult to the tax payers that pay for their luxeries! I was complaining about this 25 years ago, finally it is being recognized!

babel13's picture

WORKED FOR THE PRISON SYSTEM. THE CONS ARE ALL FED VERY WELL. GOOD PROTEIN FROM MEAT AT EVERY MEAL. ALL THE BASIC FOOD GROUPS WERE REPRESENTED. EVEN ROAD KILL DEER HIT THE MENUS EVERY SO OFTEN AT ONE TIME. UNTIL THE FOLLOWERS OF ISLAM COMPLAINED ABOUT BEING FORCED TO EAT FORBIDDEN AND UNCLEAN FOOD, SO THE DEER PROGRAM WAS DISCONTINUED IN THE PRISON SYSTEM. THEN THEY CARPED ABOUT PORK, WHICH DID THEM NO GOOD, AS THEY WERE GIVEN A CHOICE OF HOT DOGS OR BOLOGNA. AND POOR SOTS ATE IT, NEVER REALIZING THAT THESE MEAT ITEMS CONTAINED PORK BY PRODUCTS WHICH IS HAS SEVERAL UNUSABLE PARTS. LIPS, EARS, TAILS AND SCROTUMS!!!

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