Lock Down Food Menu - Randy Halprin

Randy Halprin
 "We tend to see a person in the moment, not as the journey they travelled to get here."  Kat Lehmann

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Life On Death Row
Lock Down Food Menu

We've recently been looking into the calorific value of the food served to the men on Polunsky Unit, during lockdown periods, and it definitely falls short on both calories and nutritional value.

For example, breakfast can be either:

  • 3 pancakes (3" diameter) at just 80 calories each, with a single serve pack of syrup which is sugar free, and provides no calorific value at all; or
  • a single serve box of cereal at 90 calories per serving, a medium sized boiled egg at approximately 78 calories, and a biscuit measuring 1.5" in diameter, which is just 100 calories.

So, breakfast is roughly around the 250 calorie mark. Up to around a year ago, the inmates were given a small bag of prunes or raisins with each meal, but that has all but stopped recently, so lowers both calorific and nutritional value even further. Bearing in mind that most of what the inmates get for breakfast is made up of sugar and refined carbs, and very little in the way of actual nutrition, they are most likely experiencing a sugar rush for half an hour after eating breakfast, and then crashing low until lunch comes.  This type of diet contributes to diabetes, heart disease, and strokes.

Lunch is equally lacking in variety, nutrition, and calories..It can be either:

  • a sandwich comprising of two small to medium sized slices of white bread, with a smear of peanut butter and jelly - a meagre half tablespoon of each - amounting to 84 calories per slice of bread, and 55 calories in total for the peanut butter and jelly. The peanut butter is also cut with oil, to make it go further. So, this sandwich offering comes out at approximately 223 calories; or
  • a bologna sandwich...Once again, two slices of nutritionally-lacking white bread with just one slice of bologna - 4.5" in diameter - is what the men can expect to find in their sack lunch. The slice of bologna is just 70 calories, and together with the two slices of bread at 84 calories per slice, adds up to a meagre 238 calories!

Let's presume the men are lucky enough to get both sandwiches in their sack lunch, the total number of calories for lunch comes in at 461, and when added to the calories for breakfast, this brings the number of calories, so far, to approximately 711.

Dinner needs to be a banquet to reach the requiste number of calories for men, for a day...But it isn't! The offering for this meal is usually:

  • a salami sandwich - again, on white bread - each slice at 84 calories. A serving of salami is roughly two thin slices of 4.5" in diameter, and the calorie count for each serving is 82...Let's presume there are two slices of salami in the sandwich, which brings the calorie count for this offering to a paltry 250 calories; and/or
  • sometimes the men will get either another peanut butter and jelly sandwich (calorie count above) or a chicken patty sandwich...A standard size chicken patty will have a calorific range of between 230 calories and 287 calories...Now, if they serve it as a sandwich (let's again presume it's two small to medium slices of white bread at 84 calories per slice) and generously include the 287 calorie chicken patty, then the total calorific value of the chicken patty sandwich is 455 calories. We'll generously assume that the men get both sandwiches for dinner, which brings the total number of calories for this meal, to 705.

In summary, combined with the calories for breakfast and lunch, this brings the daily approximate total number of calories on lock down days, to 1416...For grown, adult men!

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, sedentary men and moderately active men of 60 years old and younger, need at least 2,200 calories a day for healthy weight maintenance. Active men aged 19 to 35 need as many as 3,000 calories a day to maintain their body weight. Therefore, many men who consume 2,000 calories a day, or less, will start to lose weight. The men on Polunsky Unit get nowhere near this amount of food/calories during lock downs, and many are forced to rely on sugar and refined carbohydrate snacks, to keep hunger at bay...Sadly, some of the men without any outside support, don't even have those snacks to rely on.

The website, livestrong.com (a reputable US website for health, fitness and weight loss) says, “Calories for Tall People: If you are approximately 6 feet tall, you should consume about 2,100 to 2,450 calories each day to maintain a weight of 160 lbs.” Okay, that's a pretty broad scope, but it does provide a general idea.  

During the lock down in autumn 2018, Randy noticed that the food offerings were becoming much less than during previous lock downs, and filed a grievance at the Unit. The grievance was returned, informing him that the guidelines were being met...This led us to calculate the approximate calorific values of the food provided, and to say that "guidelines are being met" leaves a lot to be desired!

Please see a scanned copy of the grievance below, and apologies for the poor quality - these grievances are printed on very flimsy paper, which makes it difficult to achieve good scanning quality.

UPDATE - Spring Lock Down 2019: We would like to give credit to the new Head Warden, Warden Butcher, who has recently returned to Polunsky Unit, and has overhauled the Lock Down Food Menu to include hot trays at mealtimes, where possible, and depending on how things are running on any particular day. This means a lot to many of us back here, and we are always grateful for each and every small mercy. We still get some horrible sack lunches etc, on some days, but the occasional hot trays make a lot of difference.

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