LANSING (WWJ) – A food service vendor for Michigan’s correction system is in trouble once again. This time, Aramark is accused of serving inmates garbage — literally.
A spokesman for the state Department of Corrections is confirming reports that prisoners at the Saginaw Correctional Facility were served some food last October that had been thrown in the trash.
The meals in question were meatballs “or some sort of meat products,” spokesperson Chris Gautz told the Saginaw News.
Apparently, an Aramark employee had thrown the food away before realizing more inmates still hadn’t been served. The employee, who has since been fired, then retrieved the food “rinsed them off, reheated them in the oven and instructed the inmates to serve them.”
The inmates refused to serve the trash-food, so the fired worker and another Aramark employee served the inmates themselves.
“Obviously it shouldn’t have happened. It’s a health-code violation,” said Gautz.
The incident is the latest violation among many others since Aramark signed a three-year, $145 million contract with the Michigan prison system in 2013. The company’s performance has been under scrutiny over misconduct by some of its employees and food contamination issues.
Just two weeks ago, it was revealed that a kitchen worker at the Central Michigan Correctional Facility near St. Louis was fired after ordering cake that appeared to have been nibbled or pawed by rodents to be served to inmates. The incident, which took place last December, was among violations for which Philadelphia-based Aramark ended up paying a $200,000 penalty.
At least three dozen Aramark employees have been banned from prisons for violations since the company took over.
Democrats and a liberal advocacy group have called on Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, to cancel the Aramark deal, saying problems were inevitable because of high turnover and lower pay for private workers who replaced roughly 370 state employees who lost their jobs in the outsourcing.
The governor has defended the decision to stick with the food vendor, saying the state was on pace to save $14 million a year through privatization. He also absolved Aramark of responsibility for suspected food poisoning and maggot problems.