The Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: 27 August 2012. Canberra Times photo by Rohan Thomson
Inmates at Canberra’s jail have had dessert reduced on the menu as more and more are watching their waistlines.
Corrections ACT has confirmed dessert with the evening meal has been reduced from nightly to four times a week.
But that does not mean the inmates are going hungry as there is a tasty selection of meals on offer over the two-week rotating menu. The culinary choices at the Hume facility change each season as the inmates pre-order their selection a week in advance.
The inmates are provided with a continental breakfast and sandwiches for daytime meals, but can choose between a standard and vegetarian option for dinner.
All meals are made on site and religious meal requirements, such as halal and kosher, can be accommodated.
Highlights of the autumn dinner menu included Tuscan pork belly with roast vegetables, falafels, zucchini haloumi fritters, Asian bean cakes and coconut rice, beef massaman curry, tofu schnitzel, or tortellini and mushroom sauce.
The scaled-back dessert options include tapioca, mud cake, and bread and butter pudding.
Each meal is prepared in the Alexander Maconochie Centre's kitchens, then hygienically sealed, labelled and delivered ready to eat at a cost of about $9 a day per prisoner.
Corrections authorities said the inmates have also been given more access to fresh fruit.
The reduction in desserts is part of a new dietitian-designed menu for the jail that aims to reduce the kilojoule intake of the inmates.
But authorities said the inmates could still indulge their sweet tooth with “treat food” out of their own pockets.
Corrections Minister Shane Rattenbury said the move was in line with a healthy prison concept designed to promote positive life skills and a healthy lifestyle.
He said the new menu was designed to cope with an increased number of inmates on weight-reduction or low-fat diets.
“ACT Corrections food services staff meet regularly with ACT Justice Health and the Hume Health Centre in relation to detainee diets and health,” he said. “It was noted during one of these meetings that there was an opportunity to review the overall AMC cell block menu, given the growing number of detainees on weight-reduction or low-fat diets. The manager of AMC food services then consulted with the contracted dietitian to design a menu with a reduced calorie intake."
Mr Rattenbury said a number of changes were made to the menu as a result, including increased fruit portions, and a decrease in processed sugar and high-carbohydrate foods. The reduction saw the cut to the number of days dessert was served.
But the minister noted the change only affected inmates in cell blocks, as those housed in cottages plan their own menus.
Mr Rattenbury said the food services manager would continue to meet regularly with the dietitian to review inmates' specific diets and to update the kitchen operations.