A’viands Food and Services Management began preparing food Oct. 25 and provide three, dietician approved, meals a day.
“We serve two hot meals for lunch and supper,” Food Service Director Chris Teskey says. “In the past, inmates received two cold meals and one hot meal.”
Reviews of the new food have received wide acclaim.
“Everything has been going well,” Jail Administrator Geary Wells says. “Even the staff eats here three times a week.”
New equipment in the Law Enforcement Center’s kitchen allowed for the addition of another hot meal. Stainless steel refrigerators, freezers, stoves, ovens and counter tops provide a dream space for a food service provider.
“It is really nice to have a lot of space,” Teskey says. “Everything is stainless steel and National Food Safety approved.”
Over the lunch hour on Wednesday, Teskey was busy preparing salisbury steak, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans and homemade biscuits.
She scooped the menu items on an insulated tray in precise serving sizes and stacked the individual trays on a cart for delivery. Once ready, Teskey makes a call to one of the control officers and they pick up the meals for delivery to the jail pods.
“No utensils leave the kitchen,” Wells says. “Inmates are issued a plastic spork and use that to eat.” Prisoners are given half an hour to eat and Teskey stores any leftovers available.
The process is streamlined and requires only one employee to prepare and serve the meals.
Teskey typically works a shift from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then is relieved by one of three possible employees for the evening meal.
Surprisingly, Teskey says becoming accustomed to working in a jail has not been very unusual.
“I am kind of in my own little world,” Teskey says. “People come through once in a while to stop in and say hi, but normally, I am working by myself.”
The kitchen is located in an unsecure part of the jail, so Teskey has very little to no interaction with inmates.
“I grew up the daughter of a police officer so it is not all foreign to me,” Teskey says. “The only thing different is that I have to use a key card to get in the kitchen.”
The first week of the job was extremely busy for the food service’s new employees. Teskey and her crew faced the challenge of becoming acclimated to their new responsibilities and were serving 50 inmates and staff.
“The early part of November, was the busiest week we have had,” Teskey says. “It was a good way to learn everything quickly.”
Occupancy numbers remained high throughout the month of November with 35-40 inmates needing three meals a day. During the holidays, numbers have leveled off into the mid-20s, but the fluctuation of people makes it difficult to guess how many meals need to be prepared.
“I usually look at the number of meals made the day prior and add a few extra,” Teskey says. “Usually that gets me pretty close.”
Every day, meals provide fruits and vegetables and even include homemade items such as cakes, biscuits and meatloaf.
“For Christmas and Thanksgiving, we went off the regular menu,” Teskey says. “Inmates were served turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. So they do get treats once in a while.”
Accommodations are also made for those with food allergies or medical issues.
“We pay close attention to make sure everyone is getting what they are supposed to,” Teskey says.
From all of the evidence received from LEC staff, that goal has been accomplished since Oct. 25.
“I am busy the entire day,” Teskey says. “It is wonderful to finally be using the facility.”