Sheriff Shock’s idea to serve sandwiches saves money

By Tammy Keith Originally Published July 4, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated July 3, 2013 at 9:54 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Turkey-bologna sandwiches are prepared as lunch for inmates at the Faulkner County Detention Center in Conway.

Prisoners are entitled to three square meals a day, but Faulkner County Sheriff Andy Shock’s idea to substitute sandwiches for some hot meals is saving thousands of dollars a month.

“We’re telling a huge difference,” Shock said.

Officials said the change is saving approximately $800 a week.

Shock, who took office in January, said he was looking at ways to save money.

“We’re looking at any way we can to trim the budget here and there,” he said.

During a tour of the Benton County jail several years ago, Shock said, he saw the inmates were being served sandwiches.

“They said, ‘Oh, yeah, we do it all the time. It saves a lot of money,’” Shock said.

He decided to tweak the menu and serve sandwiches for lunch during the week and at both lunch and supper on Saturday and Sunday.

“I thought we’d try it for at least a month,” Shock said.

Sgt. Kanisha Douglas, food-service manager in Conway, said the program started in May.

Instead of fried chicken nuggets, a fried chicken patty or spaghetti for lunch each week, the prisoners get a rotation of sandwiches made of turkey bologna, turkey ham or peanut butter. Douglas said that because of religious considerations, pork is not served.

Maj. John Randall, jail administrator, said if a detainee has a proven peanut allergy, he may get a turkey-bologna sandwich on that day.

“It has happened,” Randall said.

The prisoners receive a hot meal for supper Monday through Friday.

Douglas said the first week, $1,000 in savings was realized. Since then, she said, approximately $800 a week has been saved.

The food is purchased through

Pippin Wholesale Co. in Harrison.

“I’m not saying [previous lunch items] were a great meal,” Shock said, “but as far as being in a correction facility, it was pretty good food, comparatively.”

Shock said he knew he would get complaints, so he tried a sandwich first.

“Before an inmate ever took a bite of turkey bologna, I sat down with two of my top three guys in administration, and we all sat and ate a turkey-bologna sandwich with Frito chips,” Shock said. “Nobody’s pitched just a raving fit, as I call it.”

Randall was one of the people who tried a turkey-bologna sandwich with the sheriff. Randall said he liked it — and the idea.

“We hit the ground running,” Randall said. “We realized we could save a lot of money just by taking away one hot meal a day [and two on weekends] and still meet the state requirements of calories.

“We completely shut the kitchen down to any cooking on Saturday and Sunday,” he said.

Randall said the food budget for 2012 was $245,000, and by June 24, 50.6 percent had been spent.

This year, the food budget is $235,000, and 46.1 percent of the budget has been spent over the same time period.

The daily average number of inmates was 252 through June last year.

This year to date, the daily average number of inmates is 306.

“We have more inmates, and we’re still saving money,” Randall said.

He said savings come from not buying products such as chicken nuggets, chicken patties and french fries, and the oil used to fry them.

Shock said the new menu meets all standards.

“We cleared all the menus through our attorneys — Mike Rainwater (Rainwater, Holt & Sexton),” he said. “We cleared it through dietitians and everybody it needed to be cleared through. It’s all about calorie content.”

Douglas said the calorie count is 2,200 calories a day for inactive inmates and 2,500 for inmates who are working, such as the kitchen staff. The calories include the mayonnaise and mustard served with the sandwiches.

Douglas said the menus use the public-school guidelines

and include a fruit and vegetable.

She said Fritos are served only when the detainees have to go to court and receive a sack lunch.

On Monday, the all-female kitchen staff at Unit 2 [intake and minimal security] was preparing turkey-bologna sandwiches on whole wheat bread with sides of green beans and apple sauce.

Two of the women said they think sandwiches taste better than the former menu items.

They agreed that the new lunches are easier to prepare, too.

Randall said Arkansas Department of Health employees inspect the kitchen, and the inspectors have watched the kitchen staff prepare lunch.

“Our kitchen usually gets an A, or A plus,” Randall said.

Randall said that sometimes, when he doesn’t have time to leave for lunch, he calls the kitchen to ask what’s on the menu, and he’ll have a cold-cut sandwich.

He said the savings likely will be left alone to stretch the food budget.

“You never know what may happen next year — our numbers could be through the roof next year at the same time. We could have 400 detainees this time next year,” Randall said. “We really tend not to bother the food budget and tend not to mess with it and transfer it anywhere else, because it’s so unpredictable.”

It could be used in an emergency, Randall said. For example, if a cooler broke down at the end of the year, Randall said sheriff’s office administrators could ask to use food savings to buy a new one.

Shock said he’s pleased with the new menu and its cost-saving results.

“Jail needs to be a place people don’t want to come,” he said. “I’m not saying I’m against them having a good meal. If it was up to me, we’d serve [sandwiches] three meals a day, seven days a week, 365 days.”

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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