County to change how it feeds inmates

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 20, 2002

The county will take over the authority to choose a contractor for jail inmate meal service from the sheriff, starting next year.

The county currently allocates about $140,000 annually to the Board of Prisoners (BOP), operated by Sheriff Don Nolander. The amount is based on an estimated cost of $10 daily cost per inmate.

The selection of a contractor is at discretion of the BOP. The $10 cost is guaranteed regardless of the number of meals actually served.

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Somebody placed in custody late at night and bailed out in the following morning may not take a dinner, or even a breakfast, in the jail. But the present system provides a full $20 meal expense for this person.

Under the new system, the county will hold public bidding for the meal service. The calculation will be altered to a per-meal basis to minimize the expenditure.

Commissioner Dan Belshan, who raised the issue, said the county would save a significant amount of money by this change. Bidding results in Mower County shows the daily cost is $8.25 per inmate, according to him.

County Administrator Ron Gabrielsen agreed with the cost-saving effect of the new system. But he also pointed out the county will take all liability for the meal service in the jail from then on.