Eating Behind Bars: Ending the Hidden Punishment of Food in Prison is the first national investigation of its kind. This six-part report explores the inequities and troubling trends in prison food, centering the perspectives of people who have been incarcerated while also examining food service policies and practices that affect more than 1.3 million people incarcerated in state prisons nationwide.
Good food nourishes and sustains the body— and does more than that. What we cook and eat affirms who we are as individuals and connects us to people, places, and cultures. Yet a positive relationship with food—an essential part of being human—is denied every day to incarcerated people when the food made available to them functions as another form of punishment.
The report also highlights promising efforts in a handful of prisons where nourishing food is becoming a priority, illuminating the potential for change. Growing awareness that access to good food is a fundamental human right has spawned urban farms, mobile farmers’ markets, and land co-ops, revitalized school lunches, and more. This report makes clear that the food justice movement must also incorporate the millions of people inside prison walls and suggests how diverse stakeholders can work together in common purpose.