Women inmates at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF) identified weight gain during prison as a major concern. The Oregon Public Health Division, Oregon Department of Corrections, and Mercy Corps Northwest have partnered on a Kaiser Permanente-funded project to assess inmate weight gain and create a more healthy food environment at CCCF.
Project Activities & Outcomes:
- Our 2012 survey documented that 89% of women who had been in CCCF for 6 -24 months were overweight or obese, with an average weight gain of 17 pounds since entry. Women reported high rates of food insecurity and use of stimulants to lose weight prior to prison entry.
- The garden expanded from 10,000 to 23,000 square feet, and in 2016 produced over 6,000 pounds of organic produce for inmate meals. CCCF uses 90% of the produce for prisoner meals and donates 10% to a local food bank.
- CCCF gardeners initiated a worm bin and traditional composting systems to compost kitchen and garden waste, generating about 20 cubic yards of garden soil annually. The Minimum facility now composts all kitchen waste.
- The daily calories on the Minimum facility menu dropped from about 3,000 to 2,100 calories, and inmates are expressing support for these changes. Plans are underway to adopt the reduced calorie menu at the Medium facility, which would expand the project’s reach to twice as many inmates for the duration of their sentences.
- Menu labeling began on Minimum cafeteria menus and coffee cart offerings, and nutrition messaging has expanded.
- Educational opportunities for inmates related to growing, harvesting, and preserving healthy food have expanded. DOC also began offering food handlers’ certification, and promoting SNAP enrollment at release.