I usually plan out my meals with a lot of energy and joy. For me, preparing a great meal is almost as much fun as eating it. But a recent article made me really realize just how lucky I am to be in that position. The choice to eat healthy and flavorful meals isn’t something that everyone can partake in. And the article presented a group of people who are suffering from big business forcing choices onto them.
The article took a harsh look at a company called the Keefe Group. The Keefe Group sells food within prisons. The author is writing from the perspective of someone who’s living with their influence constantly hanging over his head. As a prisoner within the current jail system he’s had to deal with a lot of managerial issues. However, it’s really only the Keefe Group which seems to raise actual anger within him. The more I learned about the Keefe Group the more I could see why that’s the case.
The big problem is that the Keefe Group operates as a monopoly within prisons. They’re a food service company that is usually contracted with in order to serve auxiliary functions to the main meals. Basically, they’re there to provide a bit of extra snacking or flavor in between real meals. It’s clear from looking out at the world that this isn’t really how our culture works with empty calories though. Junk food usually is the biggest source of calories for most people during the day. Prisoners deprived of their favorite junk food and of distractions in general will usually get pretty desperate for empty calories. So desperate that they’re easy to separate from almost any percentage of their income. Prison work programs don’t pay much. But the Keefe Group is happy to push up their prices to match whatever someone can afford. The fact that the Keefe Group’s contracts don’t allow for competition means that they can do what every monopoly does. They push prices up to an absurd amount while lowering quality. The Keefe Group is well aware that competition cannot exist due to the nature of their contracts.
I think it’s plain that the Keefe Group needs to be pulled back a little. Possibly by bringing in competition or possibly by adding in some better prison funded dessert options. But no matter how it happens, it needs to occur for the sake of prisoner’s health.