GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The company newly charged with feeding hundreds of Harrison County inmates is looking at ways to provide more food for less money. This weekend, High Cotton Food Services took over meal service at the county jail as part of a $1.4 million contract.
Hard working inmate chefs are helping High Cotton Food Services make the transition into serving meals at the Harrison County jail with relative ease.
"The inmates are very happy to have us down here, " said Kevin Fish, Operating Partner. "They've been supportive. There's about 12 to 14 inmates who work a shift and a few of us that provide the food for them, give them the recipes and give them the direction. But they've gone the extra mile to make it a smooth transition."
High Cotton's staff says it oversees the feeding of about 1,100 inmates three times a day.
"We're here to give them good, quality nutrition," said Fish. "They get 2,700 calories a day but believe me they are not eating fried mud bugs from High Cotton. "
According to Fish, Harrison County pays the company about $1.20 per inmate per meal. The company is already looking for ways improve food quality and save money.
"It's easiest to buy something frozen, thaw it out and stick it on a plate,"Fish said. "But you get better quality, and it's more cost efficient if you make it from scratch. "
Fish says prisoners cooking the meals can benefit from making more dishes from scratch.
"There's 30 guys working down here that are going to be out of here one day and back in the job market," he said. "If we can teach them a skill and something they can take with them, that's definitely something we want to do."
High Cotton workers say their biggest challenges so far finding businesses will all the food they need in stock then keeping track of all the inventory.
Fish said, "The food ordering is on an incredible scale. At High Cotton, we'll order 100 pieces but it will be two of this, two of this, four of that. Here I may order 400 but it will be 70 of this one item and 60 of this one item. It's almost overwhelming."
Both Sheriff Melvin Brisolara and High Cotton food Services staff say they are pleased that a local company is now providing food service at the jail.