- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state is saving more than $10 million a year by using a private company to feed inmates, but food complaints have increased sharply, according to a report by an Ohio prison watchdog group.

The Correctional Institution Inspection Committee report released Tuesday says food services cost the state $64.5 million during fiscal year 2015 - down nearly 18 percent from 2008, The Columbus Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1SAFe2J ) reported.

The report found inmate grievances about the quality and amount of food rose to nearly 375 in 2014, up from 260 in 2013. It also says more than 75 percent of inmates reported having negative views about Aramark Correctional Services, which took over the prison’s food services three years ago.

A message seeking comment from Aramark, which is serving meals to nearly 51,000 inmates, wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday.

The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, the union representing prison employees, has had continuing concerns about the contract.

Union President Christopher Mabe said the report “should be a wake-up call” that there are problems with the food service.

Aramark also is supposed to provide security during food service times, but corrections officers have to fill in to ensure there aren’t any disturbances, Mabe said.

“I believe Aramark is undermining our prison security,” he said.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction continues monitoring food service to ensure nutritional and appropriate meals as well as contract compliance, according to department spokesman Grant Doepel.

“The contract with Aramark has resulted in significant cost savings,” Doepel said.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, https://www.dispatch.com


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