Home / Law and public safety / Banned In 3 States, Nutraloaf Continues In Florida Prisons

Banned In 3 States, Nutraloaf Continues In Florida Prisons

The meatloaf-style food is served to prisoners in solitary confinement. DOC said prisoners prefer fried chicken, according to a food survey taken by inmates. (Photo: Gallery 400/Creative Commons)
Nutraloaf, also known as a special management meal, is served to prisoners in solitary confinement. It has been banned in three states but continues to be used in Florida. (Photo: Gallery 400/Creative Commons)

It’s brown, rectangular and continues to be served to prisoners in Florida correctional facilities.

Nutraloaf — also known as a special management meal, prison loaf or disciplinary loaf — is served to prisoners in solitary confinement if they create security problems.

Buzzfeed is one of several news outlets to host taste tests for the food, showing participants spitting out the food and refusing to eat it, posing the question of whether it should be fed to inmates. 

The food has been banned in Massachusetts, Minnesota and, as of December 2015, New York. But the Florida Department of Corrections stands by its use.

“The department’s policy is that food is not used for disciplinary reasons, but in this one particular instance for confinement inmates, there are instances where we would recommend that a special management meal is utilized,” said Shane Phillips, who oversees the statewide food operations for the Florida DOC. “If [an inmate] is endangering the safety of our staff, we take that very seriously.”

Alex Friedmann, associate director and managing editor of Prison Legal News, said many institutions do not use Nutraloaf and that those facilities find other ways to control their inmate population.

Prison Legal News, a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, publishes a monthly magazine about prisoners’ rights and advocates for changes in the prison system.

“When you create a food item that is so unpalatable that prisoners just can’t eat it … then, in effect, you are denying people food,” said Friedmann, who served 10 years in correctional facilities.

The standard recipe for Florida’s special management meal includes carrots, spinach, dried beans, vegetable oil, tomato paste, water, dry grits and dry oatmeal, according to the DOC. It’s created by kneading the ingredients together, splitting the mound into three loaves — no more than 1 to 1.5 inches thick — and baking for 30 to 40 minutes at 325 degrees.

Florida law says that inmates can be placed in solitary confinement and given special management meals for the following infractions: throwing or misusing food, beverages, food utensils, food trays or human waste products; spitting at staff; destroying food trays or utensils; or any other acts that would place staff in jeopardy with a serving tray or utensils.

An inmate can be placed on special management meals for a maximum of seven days before being returned to regular meals for a minimum of one day.

“I think it is improper to use food as a form of punishment,” Friedmann said. “Food is one of life’s necessities.”

Friedmann said there are other ways to discipline inmates, such as shortening visitation hours or taking away phone privileges.

“The bottom line is it is a form of punishment,” he said. “They don’t serve the loaf to the general population or the officers.”

The general prison population’s meals are based on a four-week master menu cycle, according to the Florida DOC. A typical breakfast can include oatmeal, coffee cake, fresh fruit, coffee, sugar, margarine and a breakfast beverage, such as juice.

“All it would take is for Secretary [Julie] Jones [of the Florida Department of Corrections] to say, ‘Nope, we don’t need to do this anymore,’ and they wouldn’t do it,” Friedmann said.

It’s an internal policy that can be changed, he said.

“A lot of people tend to forget prisoners are people and humans, too,” Friedmann said. “Prisoners’ rights are human rights.”

Florida DOC spokesman McKinley Lewis said he disagrees with the idea that special management meals are a form of punishment.

“I wouldn’t classify [the food] as a punishment,” Lewis said. “It is much more geared toward staff safety.” 

About Leah Shields

Leah is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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  1. From everything that I have heard about this practice, this “food” is so unpalatable that offering it as the only option is almost tantamount to denying people food. For obvious reasons, denying people food is a big problem.

    Some aspects of this policy also are likely to particularly affect people who are already really not well, since most people do not throw their bodily fluids unless they are in a pretty unfortunate mental space. Finding a way to deny them nutrition is unlikely to stabilize their situation.

    If someone truly is a safety risk, it may well be appropriate to place them in their own room until they are calmer while providing them with human contact through a window or barred door. Essentially denying them nutrition does not seem like a very constructive response.

    I truly don’t believe that institutions set out to try to hurt people or do things that are unreasonable. With reevaluation and thought, some new alternatives can be developed. The changes made by so many institutions are truly admirable and deserve lots of praise.

  2. The loaf does not deny prisoners food. Management is essential for the safety of inmates and staff. It’s true that for the first day or two those served this loaf flush it down the toilet…or throw it at officers. After about 48 hours hunger overcomes taste and the loaf is gobbled up when served. It’s simply a management tool…and if I thought for one second it denied prisoners food, I’d be against it. There is in fact a difference between management and punishment.

  3. According to the article, it’s served to prisoners in solitary. Yet, the DOC head says it’s ‘geared toward staff safety’.
    If the prisoners are in solitary, the staff is already safe.
    It’s punishment.

  4. I hope they enjoy it!
    Can’t behave, then suffer your punishment!!!!

  5. Wrong I was in prison but loose serious wieght very fast due to this stuff. This was given to inmates that became unable to handle the stress of prison and wanted to be in solitary confinement not knowing all they had to do was check into protective custody for a time out from the loud noisy crowds and have mo privacy and quiet time.

    Management loaf is foal this picture makes it look good people need to remember that prison loaf is made mostly by inmates and not outside sources I have witnessed inmates try to eat it is foul you could spit it out and it stick to walls and looks like dog crap really human can not eat that crap.

    Yes maybe for 2 days max but atleast give them some juice or water to cope with the hunger. Also note that many cells lack ventilation I literally was breathing dust non stop and had no access to fresh air. Prison and being out here are really any different the food is better thats about all.

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