A food strike at Connell’s Coyote Ridge Corrections Center has ended after the prison agreed to add a hard-boiled egg to breakfasts as well as other compromises.
At its peak, nearly 1,700 of the 2,065 prisoners housed at the state prison in Franklin County declined prison-served meals because they had complaints about food quality and other jail conditions.
The food strike was not a hunger strike. Prisoners had access to buy food through the prison commissary.
There were several issues, but the primary complaints centered on the prison practice of handing out pre-packaged “breakfast boats” with the evening meal to hold them over to the following day’s lunch.
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The breakfast boat contains a muffin, breakfast bar, peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a packet of oatmeal or cereal and packet of dried milk.
‘Breakfast boats’ criticized
The prison is replacing the muffin with hard-boiled eggs to improve the protein content, said Karen Takacs, spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Corrections.
As of last week, 96 percent of inmates were eating the prison-supplied meals, said Takacs.
In addition to compromising on the breakfasts, the prison agreed to increase the number of inmate-purchased TVs in multiperson cells and to re-pad benches in an exercise area.
The compromise followed several meetings between Rob Herzog, assistant secretary of prisons, and prisoner representatives.
Gail Eddy, a Tacoma-area resident whose boyfriend is serving a three-year sentence for a drug-related conviction, confirmed to the Herald the food strike is over.
Prison advocates have complained about the nutritional value of prison-prepared meals since about 2014, when the state prison system switched from preparing on-site meals with ingredients grown at the prison to serving meals packaged at prison-owned industrial kitchens.
Last spring, prisoners at the walla Walla State Penitentiary staged a similar strike.
Prison Voice Washington, which advocates for the 18,000 prisoners in state custody, released a report in 2016 that called the current system of feeding prisoners unhealthy and a deterrent to the system’s rehabilitation mission.
Correcting Food Policy in Washington Prisons is available for review at prisonvoicewa.org.