Prison Food

For a recent issue of Edible Hudson Valley, writer Lee Bernstein and I visited New York’s medium security Fishkill Correctional Facility for a tour of the kitchen, messhall, and food storage rooms. No food is actually cooked on the premises – it is prepared off-site, trucked in, and the packaged contents are heated in large stainless steel tubs and served by inmate staff. Meal names are often glamorized (“creamy chicken dinner” consists of bagged chunks of soy protein mixed with bagged white powder, plus water). For the full story see the Summer 2010 issue of Edible Hudson Valley.

Left, an officer makes sure each utensil is accounted for. Right, an inmate who works with the special dietary meals.
In the locked utensil room: Utensils are kept on a shadow board, to keep track of them.
An inmate cook prepares hot dogs for lunch. Hot dogs are one of the more popular items - along with pizza and chicken.
An inmate maintenance porter fills a kettle with boiling water, which will be emptied into buckets and used for mopping the messhall after lunch.
Signage in the hallway
A kosher meal, pre-heating
Left, tables and stools in one of the large messhalls, moments before inmates arrived for lunch. Right, creamy chicken dinner, before it is prepared for serving.

Published by Jennifer May

Jennifer May is a food photographer based in New York's Hudson Valley and Brooklyn.

Food stories in New York's Hudson Valley and beyond from photographer Jennifer May