INMATE FOOD AND WORK FARM
Inmate Work Farm Unit
The inmate work farm unit operates a 58 acre Inmate Work Farm in cooperation with the Marion County Board of County Commissioners, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the Office of Greenways and Trails. The site is located at the intersection of CR-35 and CR-464. The Inmate Work Farm is comprised of three components:
- Provides agricultural training opportunities involving the growing of crops for inmate consumption through the Jail’s Food Service Unit.
- Involves the growing of ornamental plants for ultimate use at government facilities throughout the county.
Includes animal husbandry, including cattle, swine and poultry.
The Food Services Unit
The Food Services Unit is responsible for providing meals, three times a day, to the inmate population. The menus used are reviewed on an annual basis by a licensed dietician to ensure the meals meet the nationally recommended requirement allowances for basic nutrition. In addition to the normal meals provided, they also ensure all medical and religious diets are provided that have been prescribed by the Physician or the Chaplain respectively.
“Welcome to the Culinary Arts School of hard knocks.” While this passage may sound unfamiliar to the average citizen of Marion County, it is quite common to the inmates and staff at the Marion County Jail. Unlike most culinary academies, the inmates of the Sheriff’s Office literally learn the practical dynamics of producing prepared meals from the field to the plate.
The program gives selected inmates a variety of roles which include duties from farming, cultivating, harvesting, and finally preparing daily inmate meals. The inmates are also taught bakery and line service skills while recycling reusable waste materials in the process. Many inmates, having never seen the full cycle of preparing a meal, will leave the facility with gainful employability skills that could assist with obtaining lawful employment; thus, becoming contributing members of their households and to society.
The primary goal is to reduce the mounting cost of feeding inmates, a burden normally assumed by the citizens of Marion County, while teaching the inmates to be productive. This cost effective approach extends beyond deterrence and encourages self-preservation. While it is not certain the Culinary Arts Academy endeavor will reduce crime rates, it certainly places inmates on a path toward becoming contributing citizens. Call it community policing at its best.
The Dietician/Nutritionist, who is contracted through the Marion County Jail Food Service Unit, developed a sufficient nutritional twenty-eight day diet for the inmate population. The Dietician is licensed, registered, and is state certified by the State of Florida Department of Medical Quality Assurance. The diet produced was developed using the recommended guidelines of the American Dietician Association. This is based on documented scientific principles that will reduce risk factors associated with heart attacks, stroke, and other food related diseases.
The twenty-eight day diet was planned, developed, and implemented to meet the required nutritional needs of the adult inmate population. Inmates on special diets such as diabetes, pregnancy, and many other special need diets have also been developed in great detail to meet their nutritional requirements. The diets are broken down to illustrate the nutrients per serving such as number of calories, proteins, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and calories from fat. The amounts of daily recommended vitamins also are included in the diet, along with the percent of calories from carbs, and the amount of total saturated fat.
The diet is reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that all nutritional requirements are satisfied and all meals are documented and reviewed daily by the Food Service Supervisor. Fresh vegetables and seasonal fruits are used to replace canned vegetables whenever possible
*Special diets and substitute items are given if approved by Medical and are available.