Women in Sask. jail complain of 'mystery meat' from new food provider

A letter purportedly from inmates at a women's correctional facility in Saskatchewan notes complaints about the quality of food, including questions about 'mystery meat' that some were not able to identify.

Complaint about Pine Grove food similar to concerns raised at Regina jail

A letter purportedly from inmates at a women's correctional facility in Saskatchewan notes complaints about the quality of food including questions about "mystery meat" that some inmates were not able to identify.

The letter, which was not dated, was provided to news media Friday by an advocacy group, the Elizabeth Fry Society, which received the unsigned letter in January.

The food complaints are similar to concerns raised by inmates at the Regina correctional centre, who have repeatedly refused to eat in recent weeks.

"We have been served food that is uncooked, leftovers from days before and mystery meat," the letter from women inmates said.

Pine Grove is a provincial correctional centre for women in Prince Albert, Sask.

"They're writing on behalf of the women who are incarcerated," Sue Delanoy,  executive director of the society, told CBC News. "Specifically they have complaints [regarding] women with special diets and pregnant women."

The Saskatchewan government hired a private company to provide food services at its correctional facilities, a move aimed at reducing costs.

 "We hear complaints on a regular basis," Delanoy said. "I would also challenge our government to think twice about the privatisation of prison food because it doesn't always deliver the cost savings that I think politicians seem to expect."

Delanoy added that the quality of food in prison also affects the mood of the institution.

'[There is a] real connection between food related problems and institutional unrest," she said. "It really needs to be a core function in our correctional system to have decent food services that can provide skills and training to the inmates."

Provincial officials 'expected challenges'

Drew Wilby, from the provincial ministry that oversees corrections, said the issue was being taken seriously.

"Anytime concerns like that are raised, we take them very seriously," Wilby said Friday. "This deals with the issue of food quality and consistency and we've been working with [the service provider] Compass Group on that."

Wilby noted that officials have already been in contact with the private company.

"We've had productive conversations with them," he said. "We will work with Compass to make sure they will deliver quality meals."

Wilby noted the company has been providing meals for Saskatchewan institutions for about two months and said provincial officials "expected some challenges" with the new service.

"I'm confident that we're going to be able to get to a point with them where those quality meals are delivered consistently," he said.


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