Forrest County supervisors weigh options on jail's food contract

Forrest County supervisors weigh options on jail's food contract
Forrest County Jail/Photo credit: WDAM

FORREST COUNTY (WDAM) - Forrest County supervisors are looking to save taxpayers money by exploring options for the Forrest County Jail's food contract.

The taxpayers foot the bill for feeding roughly 300 inmates, and supervisors are looking to save around 20 percent more than the current contracts cost.

"There have been some complaints about the quality and quantity of the food, which is not uncharacteristic considering the situation that there in," Forrest County Supervisors board president David Hogan said. "The proposal we're looking at calls for a $1.37 a meal, currently we are paying $1.73 per meal."

That proposal comes from ABL Management, based out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

"So that would be roughly a 20 percent decrease, so if you're spending a half a million dollars, that would be $100,000 of savings, so that is attractive in itself," Hogan said.

The current contract, through CBM Managed Services out of South Dakota expires in May and costs approximately $500,000 annually according to Hogan.

Hogan said the company they are considering is closer to home, and provides a few more things involving better quality and quantity.

"It looks on the surface like it would be a better deal for us, and if we could save the tax payers some money and provide a better service than that's what we want to do," Hogan said. "They have more calories and say they serve more quantity, they provide drinks with every meal I think milk in the morning, punch at lunch and I think tea in the afternoons."

Hogan said a few years ago the jail stopped preparing food and went to the current vendor for service, and it saved around $200,000 at the time.

"Anytime you're incarcerating someone, you have an obligation to provide them their good food, and hygiene and medical services, it's expensive, but it's a serious obligation that you have," Hogan said.

Supervisors feel that it will also help settle the inmates in the jail and make them easier to manage.

"It helps to keep the peace so to speak in the jail, when you are giving them proper quantities of food, it seems to have an effect, they go to bed and not get in as many fights so that's a consideration as well," Hogan said.

If the number of inmates in the jail increase, the cost of the food will go down, according to Hogan, but it is still something tax payers foot the bill for.

"The inmates don't pay to eat, the Forrest County taxpayers pay the burden of feeding the inmates and the healthcare and all the other services that go along with having someone incarcerated," Hogan said. "It's a burden on the tax payers and if we can do something to help relieve that burden some, that's what we intend to do."

The supervisors will continue to search for vendors and consider the options with Sheriff Billy McGee for the final decision.