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CarolinaGirl Joined
Dec / 2008

Correctional (Prison) Food Service

I was wanting to know if anyone has any experience and advice for someone starting out in correctional food service. I will probably be starting as a food service office in a month or so. From what I understand, the inmates do most of the actual cooking, but we will be preparing some meals, documenting and inventorying everything, and making sure that the inmate workers follow recipes, procedures, ans sanitation guidelines.

As far as my background, I've been a correctional officer for 5 years, and have limited food service experience [2 years as a part-time student employee in college cafeteria settings - mostly prep, serving line, and simple things like smoothies & sandwiches]. I am planning on starting culinary arts classes at the local community college in fall, but will be learning "on the job" before I ever start school. I did get copies of our policies & procedures and am studying them, but I thought it'd be helpful to ask for any first hand advice. If it matters, this is a maximum security men's prison [same place i've been as a c.o. for the past several years].

Steve AJoined
Feb / 2005
Steve A

Check your private messages, Carolina. From what I remember my friend telling me, his primary job was administrative (paper pusher) and baby-sitting. I'm going to try to get hold of him for you. He has an extensive background in correctional facility food service. Ciao,

Steve AJoined
Feb / 2005
Steve A

In the mean time I'm also trying to get ahold of PrisonChef (Jack) to lend you a hand. Ciao,

Mar / 2007


let's start with safety never give out your private information. never allow an inmate to totally remove the lid from a can as these can be used as a razor frezby. never go into a cooler or freezer with a prisoner alone. ok. now keep close tabs on anything containing sugar. this includes the obvious granulated stuff but think in terms of what i can make hooch with. things like juices or fresh fruits. keep close eyes near warm areas with the booster for the dishwasher being a good area as these remain warm they make great fermentation areas. in your spice areas keep really close tabs on the spice nutmeg as they will try to hit that hard since if you take enough of it you will get a high similar to lsd. on your serving lines watch them like hawks as they will try to hook up their buddies with extra food and screw their enemies. also make sure you have your head up as most fights are going to happen in the serving lines since that where most gaurds let their own gaurd down.never ever trust a prisoner as they will con you and the next thing you know they are boosting food out of the kitchen. more than likely the knives will be on lanyards. make sure they are in fact padlock secured to the work station. make them do all the grunt work while you do the check in on all food products. past that have a good time. the 4 years i spent teaching culinary arts at the boys prison was the most rewarding time i ever had as a chef. if you need further advice just email at




Mar / 2009

I have 5 years experience in Correctional Food Service, and 18 prior years in regular food service. As far as comparing regular food service to correctional there is nothing simular. It depends upon your institutional count of course, my prison has over 2400 inmates and its a min-med facility, and the inmates come to the chow hall. If your working side by side with these inmates  just remember FIRM FAIR AND CONSISTENT these are three words that I had drilled into my head and they are very important. About policies and procedures, sure look at them, but just remember this if  you don't think its fair or a good idea and you would get into trouble for it, it probably violates some policy or procedure. As far as utensils, again it depends on your prison our knives are locked down on cables but the inmates use them. The main thing is accountability always know where your "tools" are and who has them. There is always lots of paper work to do and a lot of hoops to jump through when it comes to sanitation. If your insitution is ACA, then there are going to be even more rules and regs about sanitation. In my prison its like pulling teeth to get some inmates to clean according to sanitation policies. And sometimes your going to really feel like a well paid babysitter. But just remember you go home at the end of the day and they don't. I hope some of t his is helpful and good luck

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