Department of Correctional Services

The Cook/Chill Program

In an effort to reduce food service costs at State prisons, the Department has begun to convert its food service operations to a centralized system in which most meals are prepared and frozen at a central cook/chill facility and shipped to prisons across the State. We examined the implementation of this cook/chill system in a pilot program at 14 prisons.

We found that food service costs in the pilot program were not reduced as expected. In fact, when we analyzed food costs at two of the prisons, we found that they were 5 percent higher than food costs at two similar prisons with conventional food service operations. We also found that, because of internal control weaknesses, food supplies were exposed to serious risk of loss or theft. In addition, we identified weaknesses in the Department's system for monitoring food service costs. We concluded that the cook/chill system may have the potential to reduce prison food service costs; however, if this potential is to be realized, the Department must strengthen its monitoring procedures and internal controls. 94-S-17