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Ohio county extends unappetizing jail food vendor contract

COs have expressed concern that the food served in the Cuyahoga County jail is so poor that it could spark riot


A Cuyahoga County jail the Trinity Services Group served to inmates on May 30, 2023, appears to show a meal of beef and potatoes in a gravy mixture, with a side of corn.

Kaitlin Durbin

By Lucas Daprile

CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Council voted Tuesday to extend a contract with a troubled vendor to continue providing food to jail inmates.

Trinity Services Group will be paid $7.9 million to continue providing meals to county jail inmates for the next year, under legislation approved in a vote by the council.

The vote barely passed with a 6-5 vote. Jack Schron, Patrick Kelly, Dale Miller, Scott Tuma, Michael Gallagher and Pernel Jones voted in favor of extending the contract. Yvonne Conwell, Meredith Turner, Cheryl Stephens, Sunny Simon and Martin Sweeney voted against the legislation.

Tuma acknowledged the agreement with Trinity is “not the optimal contract,” but since the previous contract with Trinity expires at the end of September, “We really are limited in our options at the moment,” Tuma said.

In the past, Trinity has served meals so unappetizing correctional officers worried it could spark a riot. Trinity’s parent company also owns Keefe Commissary Network, which runs the jail’s commissary, leading to concerns about a potential conflict of interest that could incentivize Trinity to serve poor food to drive commissary sales, reported previously.

The revised contract is more lucrative – Trinity will receive 166% more per month — than the previous contract. The contract price has increased because Trinity will phase out the use of cheaper inmate labor in food service and because of inflation, county officials told previously.

County officials also say the new agreement with Trinity allows more controls to hold the company accountable if necessary. For example, the new agreement requires that Trinity provide the county with its daily tracking of meals, levy a $1,000 fine every time Trinity fails to provide meals that meet contract standards, set up food service meetings, and allow county officials to randomly sample food.

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