BENTON, Mo. -- Inmate meals at the Scott County Jail are going up in cost, but it could have been worse.
Glenn Klander Jr., general manager of correctional services for Aramark, and Chris Brooks, the front line manager, met with Scott County commissioners during their regular Tuesday meeting to discuss the price increase.
According to the food service contract, Aramark is able to raise the cost per meal annually at the beginning of the year based on either the consumer price index or a "market basket approach," which uses actual foods included in inmate meals to determine the amount of the increase.
Aramark did not do a price increase in January, however. While the company could, according to the contract, make the price increase retroactive to the beginning of the year, company officials have decided to only apply the increase for the rest of the year.
"I realize we dropped the ball," Klander said. "I want to do right by Aramark and by Scott County."
Klander said Aramark was initially going to increase the meal costs by 5.52 percent based on April food costs but then revised it down to an increase of 2.076 percent based on the costs as of last December.
Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger said it was "admirable" for Aramark to present the revised price increase.
County Clerk Rita Milam asked that the price increase be clearly noted on invoices for easy reference during future audits.
Burger noted they are coming up on the end of a three-year contract with Aramark.
"We've been pleased overall," he said.
The county has typically requested bids for one year of food service with an option to renew for a second or third year, according to Burger.
"Hopefully we'll get this bid process started in September," Burger said.
Klander also presented commissioners with information on enhanced menu options for inmates.
He said the "Fresh Favorites" menu doesn't replace regular inmate meals but is an additional meal offered that inmates may purchase with costs typically $5 to $7 for a meal.
The county receives 20 percent of the revenue from the additional meals.
While Aramark tries to keep the menu offerings fresh and specific to the preferences of an area, there are some staples, Klander said. "Cheeseburger and fries is the top seller everywhere you go," he said.
Klander said the meals are an excellent behavior management tool as prisoners will often be on their best behavior rather than lose the option for the meals.
Burger asked for a written proposal from Aramark for the option including a tentative menu.
"It's something we need to look into because it creates some revenue for us," he said.
In other business during Tuesday's meeting, the county has three new workers in its road and bridge department being paid by the Missouri Disaster Recovery Jobs Program.
"They came on board this morning," Burger said.
The program, which is available through the Workforce Investment Board and funded by a National Emergency Grant through the Workforce Investment Act from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Missouri Division of Workforce Development, employs workers displaced by the spring flooding and the long-term unemployed to assist in debris removal, humanitarian assistance and the restoration of public areas related to damages in the official disaster declaration.
"They are fixing potholes in county roads," Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn said.