Prison looks to centralized kitchen to save money | NevadaAppeal.com

Prison looks to centralized kitchen to save money

Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

Nevada prison officials are looking at the idea of a centralized kitchen operation to save money.

The so-called “cook-chill” process would prepare all prison meals in one or two centralized kitchens, then chill the meals and ship them by refrigerated truck to the state’s prisons.

“This has such potential,” said Director of Corrections Jackie Crawford. “All of the large hotels have gone into the cook-chill process.”

She said that means the prison system would be preparing inmates for a good job after release. It would also save money for the state since there is a growing market for centralized cook-chill operations in the hotel industry, schools and other operations where large numbers of the same meal must be prepared each day.

“We prepare over 30,000 meals a day,” Crawford told the Legislature’s interim committee on prison industrial programs. “The potential savings are substantial.”

Bill Moell of State Purchasing agreed saying cook-chill reduces problems including inconsistent quality, supply problems and differing costs in different areas of the state.

“This solves a large number of problems for the Department of Corrections in their food-preparation process,” he said.

He said more savings would come from reduced waste at a centralized kitchen facility.

Crawford said she wants to study the idea and determine what it would take to set up. She said there is already a facility, at least in Southern Nevada, at the oversized kitchen in High Desert State Prison. And she said the department has a number of refrigerated trucks to transport prepared meals to the different facilities around the state.

And she said prisons have some experience because a certain number of prepared meals already are being transported every day from prisons to neighboring conservation camps, in some parts of the state.

Crawford said the food inmates get would be at least as good as they now receive and much more consistent in quality.

Crawford said the study would help determine how much money the state could save, the cost of setting up a cook-chill operation and whether it would take one center in Southern Nevada or two, with the second in the north.

The proposed study is expected to be presented to the Legislature in February.