NYC's new jail menu is bland

No butter or sweets in improved menu
February 18, 2008 6:43:14 AM PST
A new, healthy menu at the city's jails may have some inmates bellyaching for freedom. No sweets, no butter and only skim milk are permitted under the overhauled menu devised by the Department of Correction. Only healthy alternatives are approved.

A breakfast might include fresh fruit, whole wheat bread and wheat flakes. A sample dinner: pepper steak, rice and steamed carrots.

"These people are in our custody, and they don't get to make their own choices," said Department of Correction Commissioner Martin Horn. "We have a moral obligation to make sound choices for them."

That moral obligation apparently also means unsweetened muffins, which are expected to replace the wickedly sweet ones for the roughly 14,000 inmates in the jail system.

"We have no choice but to eat what they give us. It's bland - so I guess that's healthy," said Christopher Alberici, a 40-year-old inmate at Rikers Island. Though he said finds the whole wheat bread edible, he said he still craves the liberty to choose what he eats.

The healthier menu costs the city as much as the previous one, which had included white bread and sweetened drinks, Horn said, adding that it may cost the city less in the long run.

"The cost of an inmate having a stroke or going into diabetic shock is far greater than keeping people healthy to the extent we can," Horn said.