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Dessert reduced on jail menu as inmates watch waistlines

Date

Michael Inman

The Alexander Maconochie Centre.

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.

17 comments

  • I think this is a good move. They'd all be better off eating less carbs and sugar. I also hope this has been extended to Juvie, where additives and sugary foods are implicated in all kinds of bad behaviour.

    Commenter
    Mardi
    Location
    Tuggeranong
    Date and time
    June 10, 2014, 7:20AM
    • Oh please.....more bleeding hearts have obviously infiltrated the ACT. What next electric blankets I guess, or do they already have these?
      Isn't a prison meant to be a place no one wants to or shoud return too? Canberra, pull your head out of the sand. Rattanbury is an imbecile, and so are those who voted for him in the ACT. Katy Gallagher, you are a fool to allow his Ministerial appointment to continue.

      Commenter
      Canberra what a joke!
      Location
      Gosford
      Date and time
      June 10, 2014, 7:31AM
      • Completely agree. Canberra is such an embarrassment!!!!! Gahhhhhhh. :/ Please please stop voting Labor you fools!!

        Commenter
        Lea
        Date and time
        June 10, 2014, 4:03PM
    • Damn man, thats so much better than the beans and rice I can afford to eat four days a week.

      Commenter
      mcd
      Date and time
      June 10, 2014, 7:53AM
      • "I'm not a recidivist. I'm a gourmand trying to live within his means."

        Commenter
        Colombari
        Date and time
        June 10, 2014, 7:54AM
        • No wonder we have so many prisoners reoffending after they're released! About 10 years ago, The cook at my boarding school bragged that she could feed each student for $2 per day. That's 3 meals a day for a lot of hungry teenagers! Rattenbury needs to be reminded that jail exists as a deterrent and options for inmates shouldn't be determined by inmates (although they shouldn't really be getting dessert in the first place!). How about redirecting the human rights act back towards victims of crime!

          Commenter
          Realist101
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          June 10, 2014, 8:12AM
          • I thought prisons were supposed to be places where people were punished and would not wish to return - yet in the ACT we see this sort of care and concern for those who have in many instances shown total disregard for society. Shouldn't the concept of punishment require that their diets have no enjoyment-factor? Maybe we should use the internet reports of a US prison where inmates are fed what is essentially mush.

            Commenter
            John
            Location
            Canberra
            Date and time
            June 10, 2014, 8:18AM
            • Perhaps it was society that showed a total disregard for them first... something to consider.

              Commenter
              Bloom
              Location
              Canberra
              Date and time
              June 10, 2014, 1:26PM
            • Bloom – were there to have been significant failings in our society towards a given offender then maybe there would be a case. However any such failing should have been brought up at trial and the court would have made concessions in sentencing. It is not reasonable for convicted criminals to claim “poor little me” for the rest of their sentences/lives.

              Just how much are we expected to provide in the way of services to convicted criminals? As has been said elsewhere in these comments, our society provides a far lower standard of living to many – including pensioners, unemployed, disabled,…. Why are convicted criminals afforded such a relatively high level of luxury and care when others who have committed no offence are freezing and starving?

              Commenter
              John
              Location
              Canberra
              Date and time
              June 10, 2014, 3:21PM
          • I can think of about 1,000,000 Pensioners who would happily swap diets with these guys given the opportunity. What a life, no wonder they're all recidivists.

            Commenter
            Buddy ear
            Date and time
            June 10, 2014, 8:41AM

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