BENTON, Mo. -- If the food in the Scott County Jail makes an inmate sick, it soon won't be the county's problem.
At its Tuesday meeting, the Scott County Commission approved bids for meal and commissary service in the jail.
Starting sometime in January, ARAMARK Correctional Services of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., will provide meal service to the jail. The contract will be based on a price per meal basis, with the price per meal falling as the population being served increases.
Commissary service will be provided by Keefe Commissary Network of Earth City, Mo. Under the contract, Keefe will provide commissary service to the jail and give the county 25 percent of the revenue. The service will allow inmates to order items like sodas and snacks and pay for them through an individual account.
Scott City Sheriff Rick Walter said the most important aspect of the meal service contract is that the county will no longer be liable if a prisoner is served bad food and gets sick, the contractor will. The professional food service company will also be more equipped to provide meals that follow proper nutrition guidelines, he said.
The contract also reduces labor demands on the county, which currently prepares meals in-house. Walter said the county spent about $4.50 per prisoner each day on food. The new contract will cost slightly less than that.
"This will help jailers to have more time to do their job as jailers," said Walter.
Before 2004, meal and commissary services at the jail were provided by former sheriff Bill Ferrell, who assumed any loss or profit for himself. No records exist in the county courthouse of revenue from that venture, said County Clerk Rita Milam.
Calls to Ferrell's home Thursday were not returned.
Commissioner Jamie Burger said the county government took over the duties in 2004 and ran the food service for inmates in-house. Burger said the contracts should help provide more revenue for the county.
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