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When Impact Justice began work on prison food in 2018, we couldn’t yet imagine what our national research would uncover or what new models we’d imagine for improving food in prison.

We’ve been on quite a journey with partners like you. This work illuminated the many threads of our nation’s prison food crisis — the way it threatens incarcerated people’s physical and mental wellbeing, sends people home from prison sick, adds extra burdens to families and communities, and even harms our environment, creating an unfathomable amount of food waste when poor quality or inedible food ends up in the trash. 

We’ve uncovered big, interconnected problems. But we’ve also encountered possibility

Like many Impact Justice innovations, Chefs in Prisons began with a conversation. Equipped with our research on the devastating impact of prison food, we were looking to pilot models for improving the experience of eating while incarcerated. When we spoke with Brigaid, a company that leverages the talents of professional chefs to transform institutional food programs, we’d found our next idea. Together, Impact Justice and Brigaid would take a chef-led model for producing tastier, more nourishing meals already working in schools and test it in a prison environment. 

This year, our program chef Colin Freeman began working with incarcerated residents and staff in seven Maine prison kitchens to meaningfully improve food quality.

“We’re definitely cooking differently since Colin arrived.”

— Travis Walker, incarcerated resident and kitchen staff member at Maine Correctional Center  

We can’t launch and test new innovations without your support. This Giving Tuesday, we hope you’ll make a donation to fuel our Chefs in Prisons pilot in the year ahead. Your gift will support efforts to implement meaningful training opportunities for kitchen staff, create pathways for increased local food procurement, reduce food waste, and test recipes for nutritious, life-affirming meals for incarcerated people in Maine — all steps toward creating a replicable model that can be adapted for prisons and jails across the country. 

If you make a donation to Chefs in Prisons this November, your gift will be DOUBLED, thanks to a generous $25,000 match gift from the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh. Will you help us accomplish our goal of providing good food for all?

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