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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 28th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 47 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 47

Grand jury report gives jail food the thumbs up

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Complaints about Santa Barbara County Jail food rang out last year from inmates and community members alike, as 20 percent of inmates commenced a hunger strike in protest to the food they were being served.

Inmates and community members called for larger portion sizes, demanded less soy-based protein in meals, and wanted tastier fare.

Comments were voiced loudly enough that in July 2013, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors asked the County Executive Officer at the time, Chandra Waller, and Sheriff Bill Brown to look into the complaints. Brown and Waller had dinner at the jail and pronounced the food wasn’t what you would call tasty, but good enough, and met federal requirements for portion size and daily caloric intake, 2,500 calories per day per inmate.

“It’s not home cooking,” Brown told county supervisors during the July 9 meeting. “It’s not anything I would order at a restaurant … but it’s edible.”

Letters voicing complaints were also sent to the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury in July 2013. The Grand Jury also looked into things in the jail cafeteria, publishing its own report on Jan. 27 that pronounced everything was up to snuff, and addressed additional complaints that said prices in the jail commissary—essentially the jail’s convenience store—were outrageous.

“The Jury found meals meet state standards and provide a reasonable variety of nutritionally balanced food to all prisoners, including special religious and medical diets as required,” the report said. “The Jury found jail commissary prices are comparable to those prices charged to the public for the same or like items in local convenience stores.”