An excerpt from The Food Revolutionary Strategy Handbook, a work in progress by the author.
From what I learned both in and outside of history classrooms in school, slaves were treated with a great deal of cruelty, including being subjected to food that was low in nutritional value and high in fats and starches, which could lead to scurvy and rickets. Per the 13th Amendment, prisoners deserve to be treated as slaves, and in modern times that is certainly the case. Like the slaves carried to the Americas in the cargo holds of ships, they are shackled, beaten, sometimes stripped, often raped by COs, forced to work for no pay and subjected to inferior food. The shocking truth about the food is that the same corporations who provide school food are also feeding prison populations.
 Slavery and the Making of America: The Slave Experience: Living Conditions http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/experience/living/history2.html
Prison reform is a very difficult topic around which to rally public support. People are judgmental. The media vilifies people who commit crimes and influences viewers to put those people in a myopic, unyielding set of boxes in their minds, and in those boxes, “criminals” are dehumanized. Even as you are reading this, you may have trouble
thinking that people who have been convicted of crimes are entitled to clean, healthy, nourishing meals because as a society we have an insatiable appetite to punish one another for breaking rules and laws and hurting other people. Some may say that we do this to shift focus off our own infractions – in truth, most of us break rules, break laws and hurt people all the time – so we can feel better about ourselves.
If we can dehumanize a person we can easily deny them basic human rights, can’t we? One of the first hurdles the prison reform movement, which encompasses standing up for vast improvements in prison meal programs, is to get society to change its perspective on inmates.
Why We MUST Do This:
Because if we don’t stand up for food sovereignty for every man, woman and child in the world, then we are not doing mankind real justice. Standing for inmates’ right to clean, wholesome food shows that the food revolution is universal. Many of us have sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, mothers, fathers, aunties
or uncles residing in penitentiaries and we are feeling firsthand the plight of the inmate’s loved one. They may have told us horror stories about the food on brief phone calls and emails and expressed their longing to come home to a good meal. If the corrections system is to live up to its name, punishment should not be the primary impetus for the decisions that effect every aspect of inmates’ lives, but it is indeed. They are dehumanized through societal programming through the media and subjected to abuse in many forms, including nutritional abuse, all to justify the mechanisms in the prison industry complex that benefit the corporations who profit from the constant supply of souls in it. This is just as wrong as feeding school children inferior food and contributes to the same widespread problems in physical and mental health, in environmental abuse and in food insecurity.