Do students eat like prisoners?
Hopefully you haven't gotten the chance to taste jailhouse cuisine, but if you're a product of the American school system, you probably have childhood memories of standing in line for grey mashed potatoes, half-thawed mystery meat, and slimy canned peaches. How do the trays measure up?
Typical prison meal
Although prison food is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, most prisons serve a standardized menu that seeks to maintain a moderate level of nutrition.
- 3 to 4 ounces of meat
- One beverage
- 3/4 cup of starch
- 1/2 cup of vegetables
- One bread item
- One serving of fruit or dessert
- Average calories served to inmates (per meal) - 1.300 to 1.450
- Average cost to feed a prisoner (per day) - $2.62
- 2009 Federal Budget for Prison Food - $205 million
- Nutraloaf biopolitics
In 2008, inmates at a Vermont prison filed a class-action lawsuit after one too many of their meals featured "nutraloaf", a mixture of whole wheat bread, non-dairy cheese, vegetables, tomato paste, powdered milk, and dry potato flakes. They argues that the food was used as punishment rather than nourishment.
Typical school cafeteria meal
USDA-regulated lunches served at elementary schools are supposed to include all food groups, but many students are served highly processed, unhealthy meals. Under pressure from a growing movement for school-lunch reform, in 2010 Congress passed the Healthy. Hunger-Free Kids Act. which seeks to make cafeteria fare more balanced and nutritious.
- 8 ounces of milk
- One bread item
- 1.5 to 2 ounces of meat
- 1/2 cup of vegetables or fruit
- One starch item
- Average calories served to students (per meal) - 1.400
- Average cost to feed a student (per day) - $2.68
- Average yearly Federal Budget for School food Programs - $11 billion
- Percent of school food operations that meet the recommended standard for saturated in their meals: less than one third
- Worse than fast food?
Chains such as McDonald's and Burger King test their ground beef five to ten times more often than the USDA tests beef sent to schools
A state prison sample meal, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. 2 Elementary school sample meal, according to the Healthy. Hunger-Free
SOURCES: Associated Content | U.S. Department of Agriculture | U.S. Department of Justice | Examiner | The National School Lunch Program
A COLLABORATION BETWEEN GOOD AND COLUMN FIVE