Friday, November 20, 2020

PRISONS :: Food resources in economically challenging times

I am sure I have written about this before... where in this blog I don't know... but I have been thinking a lot about food issues, surviving on little, all the people out in the world who are having hard times with food access, and then wondering about prisons.  I have one son still in an OREGON prison.

For years I have been advocating that prisons need to raise as much of their own food as possible, as a hedge between a bad economy, budget restrictions, and disasters unknown to us at this time... like an EMP or other forms of terrorism.  Waiting until it has already happened isn't a good solution for a prison.

I also came across a book about women in farming and sent it to someone in prison as a possible option for her prison.  I suggested she start a farm there, for the prison, for inmates to buy from their own Farmer's Markets, for something to keep her busy until her release, with a great resume point.

When I was sharing with this female inmate, I started talking about gardens, then I realized every prison could grow enough chickens for their egg supplies (2 chickens for one person over the course of a year) and cooked chicken food needs.  I understand it takes about six months from chick to butchering size for the chickens we eat, and egg layers take some prep before they start laying eggs to eat.  

Egg layers only provide eggs for a few years I think.  I remember when I was younger they had "boiling chickens" at the markets, and I think they were the old egg layers.  Since big pots of soup are a good thing, and since you can boil a chicken for hours and hours and hours if you want, until it gets more tender, it could be a soup broth and a frozen prepped food option for later use.

I do remember reading somewhere that the two kinds of chickens are very different, so you have to buy them for what you need them to provide.

After I realized about chickens, I also realized you could add some turkeys for Thanksgiving and some pork for Christmas and other times of the year... bacon, sausage, loin, ham, rinds, and whatever else they make from hogs.  You could add at least one cow a year, or grow a small reproducing herd for the ongoing supply.

The idea is to make it a part of the prison... use it as a teaching tool, work experience, and helping inmates to grow their resume options.  Mentoring could happen on the way.  If you create a Farmer's Market option, inmates will learn the details of operating their own business INSIDE the prison, selling to other inmates as an event, and selling to their own commissary for everyone.  They could even negotiate contracts with their prison kitchen.

These could be the starting point, and the experience of staff and inmates could create even more opportunities.

  • Gardens
  • Chickens
  • Turkeys
  • Hogs
  • Cows

You could add some occasional meats like sheep and goats, too.  It depends on the individual prison and what they will make room for.

We don't know the future, but our government is struggling in a zillion ways.  I don't think it would cost too much to start something that would be ready for an emergency and save food money down the line.  It would be part of the normal food budget anyway.

We don't want to have prisons without food in any kind of crisis... or even in their regular daily operations.

I hope someone will see this and think about it seriously.

In Christ,

Deborah Martin

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