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Aramark Agrees To Changes Plaguing Michigan Prison Food Service

Oct 1, 2014

Aramark will boost pay, staffing & training to help fix prison food problems

Credit wikimedia commons

The private company that manages food services in state prisons has agreed to hire more people and improve wages and training.

It's part of an effort to fix the state's problem-plagued agreement with Aramark. Those troubles include food shortages, high staff turnover, intimate contact between Aramark employees and inmates, and drug smuggling. A food services worker is suspected now of trying to hire an inmate to arrange a murder.

"Things are improving and we're really starting to make some strides, but the improvement probably isn't coming quick enough," says Ed Buss, who was was hired by Governor Rick Snyder to oversee the Aramark contract. Buss says he's toured about 10 prisons and talked with Aramark officials.

He says staffing shortages are the biggest issue- largely because many state corrections employees refused to switch over and work for Aramark after food services was privatized. He says that hasn't happened in other states where Aramark took over prison food services.
 "So what we did is we've negotiated with Aramark on some kind of changes and some things they would make. The big issue, a lot of these problems were just symptoms of short-staffing."

He says Aramark has agreed to hire more people, pay more competitive wages, and provide better training in an effort to retain food service employees and fix the problems.  

"What else we're doing is, we're doing additional training like the corrections officers get - training to prevent fraternization with inmates, offender supervision training, and other types of training, more security-related."

Unions and Democrats have insisted that the only reasonable option at this point is to terminate the contract.