Many Texas inmates have been eating fewer meals since April after officials stopped serving lunch on the weekends in some prisons as a way to cut food-service costs, says the New York Times. About 23,000 inmates in 36 prisons are eating two meals a day on Saturdays and Sundays instead of three. A “brunch” is usually served between 5 and 7 a.m., followed by dinner between 4 and 6:30 p.m.
The meal reductions are part of an effort to trim $2.8 million in food expenses from the 2011 budget of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Other cuts the agency has made include replacing carton milk with powdered milk and using sliced bread instead of hamburger and hot dog buns. Prison administrators said that the cuts were made in response to the state's multibillion-dollar budget shortfall in 2011, and that the weekend lunches were eliminated in consultation with health officials and dietitians. Inmates in states like New York, California, Nevada, Florida and several other states are fed three times a day, seven days a week. “I think it's really easy to take things away from inmates,” said Susan Fenner of the Texas Inmate Families Association. “One inmate told me, for some of them, that's all they have to look forward to is a meal.”