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Institutional Food Services

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Food Services, Food Factory is a one of a kind, state-of-the-art food production facility. This huge facility is 145,000 square feet and encompasses several production areas such as a Bakery, Cook Chill Kitchen, Bulk Production, and Tray Assembly. Food Services bakes all of the bread served to inmates, processes fresh and frozen produce, prepares hot meal items on site, and assembles each meal. Inmates receive two meals a day, and staff must follow very strict guidelines to ensure meals meet USDA dietary recommendations. Despite the rules and regulations, the Sheriff’s Office feeds inmates cheaper than any other jail system in the country.

The Food Services Section is a complex operation which is governed by all current rules of safety, sanitation, security and supervision. Staff are required to directly supervise inmate workers in the preparation and service of meals, and the cleaning and sanitation of Food Service facilities. In addition to supervision, staff must also educate working inmates in proper food handling techniques and sanitation in accordance with the Maricopa County Health Code. The Sheriff’s Office employs sanitarians to regularly inspect all kitchen facilities and train the production staff on food safety and compliance with the food code. A registered dietician is on staff to create the regular menu and modified diet menus, and provides dietary guidance. Food Service staff are trained to properly supervise the preparation and service of medical and religious diets.

Jail systems throughout the country look upon the Maricopa County Jail system as the leader in institutional food services. The Sheriff’s Office entered into the Arizona Gleaning Coalition in February 1994. The mission of the Coalition is to reduce hunger in our state through the gleaning of usable produce and food products from various corporations, growers, food banks, and government agencies. Our entry into the coalition provided the necessary transport and labor through the Distribution Services Section and Inmate Work Programs to dramatically impact the Coalition's efforts toward the elimination of hunger. In return for our services, portions of the products gleaned and excess food from the food banks are given to the Sheriff's Office for use by the Food Services Section. Fresh and frozen produce obtained through the program is assimilated into the inmate menu and reduces food costs by replacing menu items which would otherwise be purchased.

Food Services has also adopted a program for cost savings through selective purchasing, also known as “special buy opportunities.” This program enables vendors to actively solicit product overruns and seconds at specially reduced prices. In many cases, these items are purchased at prices fifty percent less than current comparable items. These items are utilized in our inmate meal service and replace items which would be otherwise purchased at significantly higher prices. All food received by Food Services is inspected by professional Quality Assurance staff to ensure it is safe, meets nutritional requirements and is in wholesome condition before it is accepted for use in inmate meals.

The Food Factory recycling program recovers almost every item that can be recycled, such as cans, plastic, metals, peanut butter tubs, and detergent buckets. Food waste items are processed through a pulper, which reduces it to liquid and produces a small amount of biodegradable waste. These steps have resulted in cutting our footprint at the landfill by nearly 4,000,000 pounds a year, and significantly reduced our waste disposal costs. Currently 80 - 85% of all Food Services waste is recycled. The recycling program has been so successful it has now been implemented throughout the entire Sheriff's Office.

Food Service operations are accomplished through the hard work and dedication of Food Service professionals and detention staff.