By Marlena Hartz: FREEDOM NEWSPAPERS
Some detention centers in America are trying a new menu item called prison loaf — that day’s meal ground up, floured, baked, and served in a bread-like form. The idea is to curb food fights or make them less of a mess.
Clovis jail officials have tried the prison loaf, but Quay County is not interested. Quay County Detention Center Administrator Tony Elebario, who said he had never heard of prison loaf, said it would not be a possibility in Tucumcari — in part because he would have to eat it.
“We have to eat what they eat,” he said.
The menu at Quay’s detention center includes breakfast burritos, fruits and vegetables, oven fried chicken, red or green chili cheese enchiladas, hot beef sandwiches, and fried fish.
“We tried soy-based meat once, but we had a big mess,” Elebario said, referring to thrown food. “They didn’t like it and neither did I,” he said, adding the inmates behave much better when they like what they eat.
Adult detention centers in Maryland, Virginia, and New York — just to name a few — are using prisoner palates to curb bad behavior.
And following a suggestion from the prison kitchen manager, Curry County Adult Detention Center Administrator Don Burdine agreed to try out the system: If inmates throw their food, a common problem at the center, according to officials, they could be served the prison loaf.
“I ate one,” said Burdine, who tried it before agreeing to serve it to prisoners. “It really wasn’t that bad. It kind of tasted like a carrot loaf with fish in it. It wasn’t unpleasant — honestly. It’s more psychological. Some people tend to value food based on texture and appearance. If you are one of those people, then it would be unpleasant.”
The Curry County version of the prison loaf, said Burdine, is derived from the same foods served to inmates in whole form on a daily basis. Therefore, it holds the same nutritional value as a regular prison meal, which Burdine describes as similar to hospital cafeteria food; some common side dishes, mashed potatoes and pudding. The advantage to the loaf form, Burdine said, “it can’t make as big a mess.”
The center has used the prison loaf once, Burdine said, in response to a prisoner who threw his food after being moved to the prison’s new maximum security area, the Annex.
Quay County Sun staff writer Martha Frost contributed to this report.