Under the Food and Reform programme Food Matters has been awarded funding by the Ministry of Justice to pilot the Food Matters Inside & Out project at Wandsworth Reform Prison. The project will be evaluated by the University of Surrey. And partnership organisations within Wandsworth Reform Prison include the St Giles Trust and RAPt.
Providing three balanced meals on £2.02 per person per day is challenging, especially when considering the many idiosyncrasies of the prison regime, together with the diverse range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds of the individuals detained within UK prisons.
Feedback from prisoners about prison food is often negative. There tends to be an assumption that it is not possible to have a balanced diet in the prison environment. Feelings of lack of control over food choices and gaps in knowledge around balanced healthy eating are commonplace.
Under such circumstances, catering managers cope admirably. There is, however, scope to change the composition and variety of meals, as well as to provide more information and support to prisoners, to enable them to make healthier, more balanced food choices.
Food Matters Inside & Out Project will run at Wandsworth Reform Prison during 2017 and the four strands of the project together aim to create a healthy eating environment within the prison:
- Staff training sessions to increase staff awareness around food choices, to support staff wellbeing and to ensure the sustainability of the project.
- Participatory healthy eating workshops for a selected group of prisoners (e.g those most at risk – recovering from substance misuse, or those near release).
- Peer mentors, ‘Food Champions’, to support other prisoners in making healthy choices.
- Consultancy to catering and food procurement services to help enable prisoners to access the healthiest food choices possible, including menu analysis and reformulation, healthy eating labelling and promotion.
The project aims to increase awareness of the importance of food as an essential element of any rehabilitation programme with particular reference to how food can positively and negatively affect mental wellbeing.
The intended outcomes will be:
- Positive change in prisoners’ knowledge and attitude of healthy eating
- Positive change in prisoners’ menu and canteen (prison shop) food choices
- Healthier food available through catering and the canteen.
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