I had a rather odd moment while enjoying a last piece of birthday cake. I was musing over just how delicious it is. And that’s when my late night browsing ended up at an article discussing poor nutritional standards. That made me really step back for a moment and consider the role of food in everyday life.
The article was written by someone who didn’t have many choices in his meals. As a prison inmate, one might assume that it all came down to the prison system. But the main point of his article was that it’s not necessarily the case. Because prisons often contract out to third parties for food service. And his prison utilized one of the most popular options. It’s a company called the Keefe Group.
The Keefe Group is, on the surface at least, quite benevolent. They’re meeting a demand for more and better food within prisons. But the larger problem there is that they’re only doing so in a superficial way. To go back to my dinner, that cake was a nice treat. But it’d be an unhealthy choice as my only item for dinner. And it’d be terrible to try having it for all three meals in a day. But that’s essentially what the Keefe Group promotes. Prison food is typically tasteless enough to necessitate a third party’s involvement. So anything the Keefe Group supplies will usually be first choice for prisoners.
And that first choice often forces an unhealthy result. The Keefe Group maximizes profit by focusing on cheap junk food that is able to stay in storage for extended periods. Healthier food calls for more costly shipping and storage. And that reduces how much profit the Keefe Group can make on a sale.
The Keefe Group is giving people what they want. But it’s not really providing what they need. What’s needed is balance. And prisons need to realize that they have a responsibility to prisoners and taxpayers alike. The Keefe Group is capable of higher quality fare. But they’re not going to go with more expensive options if prisons don’t force their hand.
Ultimately what’s needed is larger scale prison contract reform. This would push for greater competition for food supply within a prison. And if the Keefe Group had to actually present their case against competition they’d almost certainly include higher quality meals.