Prison Food


Talk a little bit about food in prison.

Well, some of it is OK, and some of it, I guess, could be considered pig slop. They buy it in bulk. So, a lot of it is horrible-tasting: no sauce, no types of additives whatsoever, no sugars.

Is the food better now than before your move to Warren Correctional Institution?

No, it’s the same. Same company. There’s a little bit of a difference. In Lucasville, we got oranges and a couple of other fruits. Here, the main thing we get is bananas and apples.

How has the food changed over the years? Compare what you get now to what you got when you were first locked up.

Oh boy, a couple of years ago, I don’t know how many years ago it was, an inmate sued the ODRC, I believe, because…he stated that the institutional food made him fat. So it went downhill. But it used to be beautiful. We used to get real food. If anybody was around this individual, they would have known that he was probably eating a lot of stuff from commissary that was fattening, like cookies, and candy bars, and Debbies, and so on and so on. At that time, they served us really good food. Real meats, real vegetables, real everything. Now, all we get is processed food.

Describe what a typical meal now looks like.

Well, it consists of a main. The main could be a processed hamburger or hotdog…factory pressed. Then you have a side of vegetables. It’s messed up with the vegetables. They put all the remaining vegetables from one day back in the freezer for a day or two and use them again. So, sometimes we get vegetables that have been cooked, then refrozen, then cooked again. And we get a fruit and a cookie bar. The fruit is always apple sauce, an apple, or a banana. That never changes. I guess here at this institution they say that the inmates can use anything else to make wine. That’s why they don’t serve or sell sugar no more.

And that explains why you don’t get grapes, right?

Yeah. Well, they used to serve them years ago. Not since I’ve been locked up, though. In the beginning though, when I got locked up, it was still OK. You still got served watermelon on certain holidays. They used to serve boneless ribs, real chicken,…now they took all that out.

Well, we’re getting away from the fruit here.

[Josh laughs loudly]

Today, you ate a grape for the first time in over ten years. How was that experience?

Very good. I’m just afraid of what it’s going to do to me once it hits my stomach properly. [chuckles]

Since the food is always the same, what are some creative recipes that you’ve come up with?

Well, we take condiments and cheeses and spices to chow to turn what they do give us into something edible. They sell hot sauce, honey, and a couple of other things that we use. We make everything from pizza bowls to wraps. One of my favorite would be pizza bowls. Now, this is all commissary items. We buy average pizza sauce, summer sausage, mozzarella cheese, cheese bits, a pack of wraps, olives, pickles, and little pepperoni sticks. What we do is…we crush the cheese bits until it’s almost a powder. Then we add hot water to it. And we keep adding it until it has the consistence of dough. And then you put a wrap down in the bowl. You put the cheese bits on top and spread it out. Then you add your pizza sauce, your summer sausage, and keep layering it up with the meats and cheeses. We use more wraps and cheese bits until the bowl is filled up. Then we use the microwave. It usually takes about 3 minutes. And it’ll dry up the cheese bits to…somewhat like a pizza crust.

If you try this recipe at home, please let us know how you liked it. ;)


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Joshua Lee Wade (A535494)

Pickaway Correctional Institution

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