Dining Hall Protest: Prisoners Challenge Food Cutbacks at SCI Coal Township

On June 16, 2014 prisoners at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Coal Township in central Pennsylvania are embarking on a peaceful protest of the dining hall by refusing to go to eat due to the administration’s cutback to their food portions and rations. 

Prisoners are once again taking the lead in the struggle for human rights. Support them today by calling the officials below and advocating for their demands.

On May 26, prisoners were told that the cutbacks were related to budget concerns and that their morning meal portions would be severely reduced. Prisoners are now served half a cup of cream of wheat or oatmeal, 2 pieces of toast and 2 sugar packets at the minimum 3 times per week. Rations such as syrup have been cut in half. 

The budget cuts have not, however, had any effect on staff dining options. The administration has not made any cutbacks in portions provided to the Staff Dining Room, where staff have multiple menu selections and food options, salad bars, and multiple desert entries that drain from the prison food budget. 

Prisoners are requesting that:

1. The food portions and sugar rations be returned to levels prior to the May 26 memo from Superintendent Mooney authorizing cutbacks to food portions and rations.

2. The Staff Dining Room’s unjustified and expansive entitlements be eliminated and staff be required to eat from the same Department of Corrections Master Menu, receiving the same menu as prisoners with the same portions and rations. No multiple menus, optional deserts, salad bars or other entitlements. Eliminating staff entitlements would save sufficient money from the DOC’s food budget and not require cutbacks to prisoners’ food. 

3. If the DOC continues to authorize cutbacks to prisoners nutritional needs then prisoners request that the DOC authorize policy and procedures allowing prisoners to receive monthly 60-pound food packages from family and friends as prisoners in New Jersey, New York, and Ohio are allowed to receive. If the DOC places the budget over our nutritional needs we request a means to provide for our own nutritional needs.

Food is a human right and the government must provide prisoners with adequate amounts of nutritional food to maintain physical and mental health. At a time when Governor Corbett and the DOC are seeking a record amount of money to warehouse people in prisons – more than $2 billion – there is no justification for forcing people to go hungry.

How you can help: Please contact the DOC officials below and inform them of the above requests by prisoners at SCI Coal Township:

DOC Secretary John Wetzel – (717) 728-4109

SCI Coal Township Superintendent Vincent Mooney – 570-644-7890

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