Why Local Jails Are Hiring Cooks Instead of Allowing Inmates to Prepare Meals

Over the years, there has been a significant shift in the way meals are prepared in local jails. Traditionally, inmates were responsible for preparing meals for the entire jail population. However, in recent times, many local jails have discontinued this practice and have instead started hiring professional cooks. This change has sparked curiosity and raised questions about the reasons behind this decision. This article aims to shed light on why local jails are hiring cooks instead of allowing inmates to prepare meals.

Ensuring Food Safety and Hygiene

One of the primary reasons for hiring professional cooks in local jails is to ensure food safety and hygiene. Inmates, while they may have cooking skills, are not necessarily trained in food safety protocols. Professional cooks, on the other hand, have undergone formal training and are well-versed in maintaining high standards of food safety and hygiene. This reduces the risk of foodborne illnesses, which can be a significant concern in a closed environment like a jail.

Meeting Nutritional Requirements

Another important factor is the need to meet the nutritional requirements of the inmates. A balanced diet is crucial for the overall health and well-being of the inmates. Professional cooks have the knowledge and expertise to prepare meals that meet these nutritional guidelines. They can create varied menus that provide the necessary nutrients while also catering to dietary restrictions and allergies.

Reducing Security Risks

Allowing inmates to prepare meals can pose security risks. Access to kitchen tools and equipment can potentially be misused, leading to incidents of violence or attempts to escape. By hiring professional cooks, jails can better control access to these items, thereby reducing security risks.

Providing Job Opportunities

Hiring cooks also provides job opportunities for individuals in the community. It can be a way for local jails to contribute to the local economy and reduce unemployment rates.


In conclusion, the shift from allowing inmates to prepare meals to hiring professional cooks in local jails is driven by several factors. These include ensuring food safety and hygiene, meeting nutritional requirements, reducing security risks, and providing job opportunities. While this may change the dynamics within the jail, it is a step towards improving the overall conditions and ensuring the well-being of the inmates.