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Menu changes emphasize healthy diet

Officer supervises two incarcerated people stirring large kettles of food
Incarcerated people work in the kitchen at Sierra Conservation Center. (Shot pre-pandemic)

CDCR and CCHCS feed more than 97,000 people three times a day, seven days a week. With 34 prisons throughout the state, it’s a big job and one that Departmental Food Administrator Keith Robinson and Director of Dietetics Anna Rivera take very seriously. Recent menu changes put healthy choices front and center on everybody’s plate.

“Food should be part of rehabilitation,” Robinson said, pointing out that while incarcerated, people have access to many educational and wellness programs. “Why don’t we take the opportunity to educate them on proper nutrition? Because that can affect your mental health, how you feel about yourself personally, and your own personal health.”

Menu keeps up with trends

Robinson, Rivera, and their teams study the institutional menu constantly to ensure a healthy, diverse selection of food is served. They also study dining hall trends, food waste, and receive feedback from the population to help shape the menu.

Recent changes to menu selections include reducing bread and sugar while adding more healthy vegetables. Wholesome selections like yogurt and fruit have replaced high-fat desserts.

Incarcerated people are part of the process as well. Many people work as part of kitchen crews, helping prepare food for the population. As a result, they take ownership of their work and pride in a job well done.

In this video, learn about some of the recent changes to the menu and meet the team responsible for making sure healthy food is served each day.

Read more about food service at CDCR.

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