#219 Dinnertime in prison (retro)

June 6, 2010 at 11:51 pm Leave a comment

Dinnertime in prison

I think the more correct jargon here is “chowtime”…

I wrote a blog earlier and got a few emails from it, it is always nice to get emails from readers that like what I am sharing. I hope you understand that I write because I really do care about you, and it is my hope that what I share can help you get through these tough times.

As usual, email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com, and while I am at it, one person asked why I break up the email like that, instead of just spelling it all out. Well, the reason for that is because apparently there are a lot of people who use software to crawl through the internet seeking emails to send spam and trash mail to. It seems that if you give your email online almost anywhere, somebody is going to find it and often times use it for ill will. But it seems that if you break it up, it makes it harder for a software to identify it and use it. It seems to work, since when I used to spell out my address, I was getting as many as 10 junk mails a day. Now I might get one or two a week.

Anyway, email me if you have questions about prison, or curious about my books or if you feel you want to support my blogs. It always helps.

Today as I write this, it is just after 5pm, and one of my favorite tv shows comes on in about a half an hour. (Pardon the Interruption, on ESPN if you must know). But I was thinking about dinner (or supper as some call it) and what it was like when I was in prison. No doubt many of you might wonder what your loved one is doing right now as well.

As it is, right now would be feeding time, or chow time, or dinner, or supper, in most prisons. Every prison I was in started feeding about 4:30 to 4:45, so at this very moment I am typing, there are inmates all over NC going to dinner. If I asked you to ask me the 5 most common questions one might have about prison and dinner, what would they be?

“Is the food good?”

Good question, and I really can answer that with a lot of honesty. I am not going to lie to you and tell you that it’s like going to Texas Steakhouse or Ruby Tuesday’s, but I am not going to tell you that they get slop and a cup of water either. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being dogfood and 10 being a 5-star meal, I would say it’s pretty much a 6.5.

I say that because the myth that prison food is terrible is a lie, although we must admit that sometimes it isn’t what you WANT to eat. I was never a fan of fish, so when the prison had fish for dinner, it was a lost cause for me. But the meals they have in prison are a little better than average. Sure, sometimes they miss the mark, and often times you may not get as much as you might like, but trust me folks, it usually is ok.

“Do all the inmates eat the same thing on the camp?”

Actually they don’t. There are different meals made for different inmates. For the most part, the general population eats the same thing, but keep in mind in many prisons there are guys that cannot eat certain foods. They are called “special diet” and they have to have different meals prepared. Some might have high blood pressure or diabetes, and thus need to eat a different meal from other inmates. Those inmates do at times eat a different meal than most other inmates.

For example, something very simple…an egg.

Most times prisons don’t feed inmates REAL eggs, usually it comes from a carton of yokes…I oughta know, I used to work in three different prison kitchens. But you can go years without the pleasure of eating a real egg. Think about that next time you make breakfast.

And this would apply for dinner, but even lunch meals can be different. Remember that by dinnertime all the inmates are back on the prison grounds, but during the day, many inmates might be on road squad or work release. Those inmates would not eat the same meals as an inmate on the prison grounds. They get what is called a “snack bag”, which generally has a sandwich or two, a fruit and a desert…not as much food as an inmate on prison grounds, I can tell you.

“My loved one likes to eat…can he have seconds?”

Well, the general rule is no, because prisons try to make just enough food for the population, and if they allowed inmates to get seconds, then guys would start manipulating the system to make sure they were the last ones to come eat so they can be the first ones to get seconds.

This is a tricky subject, because I know many prison actually DO give out seconds after everybody on the camp has been fed. I mean, how would it sound if you heard they were throwing away food?

This answer is kinda split, because by rule, they cannot give seconds, but sometimes the kitchen officers don’t mind. I remember working as a line server at Sanford Correctional and sometimes we had leftover eggs (remember, not real scrambled eggs) or grits and on rare occasions, pancakes. Sometimes the kitchen supervisor would let us give away the food, so we would yell, “seconds!” and guys would rush up to get more food. So yeah, it can be done, but officially it is not.

“What kind of food do you eat in prison?”

Well to be honest, almost the same kinda stuff you’d eat. Now I understand that I cannot speak for every single prison in the US, nor would I want to, but what most people fail to understand is that the prisons of the country are held accountable for the health of the inmates, especially when it comes to food. If you still think inmates get a scoop of slop with two slices of bread and a warm cup of water, you really need to stop watching those movies.

Today being Thursday I think these were the days that NC prisons actually served Fried Chicken. Most times the Thursday meal was a good one, and most times it was chicken, or I think sometimes Fried Fish…which I hated. Sometimes they had spaghetti or something else nice. I think Thursday was one of the best meals of the week maybe because it also coincided with shipping day. Tuesdays and Thursdays were when most inmates were transferred from one camp to another.

Inmates can eat hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza or other meals for dinner. Now, the hamburgers they served in prison were NOTHING like what I dine on at Texas Steakhouse or similar places, but I guess it filled the belly…for awhile.

“Well why do you eat so early?”

That is a good question, it is kinda tough to eat dinner by 5pm, knowing that your next meal won’t be until about 7am. That means you’ve got to go over half a day without a meal, which can make it kinda tough.

I have been used to eating late, nowdays I might eat dinner as late as 10pm, usually by 9pm. But I rarely ate a dinner as early as 5, and even if I did, I still had options to snack some more before going to bed. But that was when I was much younger. Being in prison, this can be a problem because if for some reason the dinner was not “spot on” then you’ve got a growling stomach until breakfast the next day…unless you have canteen.

This is why I sometimes talk about how inmates can do their time a little better if they had a few dollars in their pocket. To me, when I had the assurance that I could make canteen and get a cup of soup or some Ramen or some chips, it made a strong safety net when the dinner wasn’t on the mark. Trust me folks, it saved me many times, as I am sure it did for many other inmates.

Well, that’s 5 questions, I don’t know if I answered yours, but you can always email me to ask more…I gotta run, my show is on!


Entry filed under: girlfriends with boyfriends in prison, God and prison, inmates, jail, LostVault, mothers with sons in prison, prison, prison abuse, prison blogs, prison books, prison cards, prison food, prison jobs, prison mail, prison pen pals, prison support sites, Prison Talk Online, Prisonbid, rehabilitation.

#216 Double Jeopardy in the media (retro) #220 When inmates must defend the honor (retro)

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