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As Cost-Saving Measure, Texas Prisons Cut Lunch On Weekends

<p>Rosario Claudio is an inmate at the minimum-security facility known as the Carol Vance Unit near Houston, Texas.</p>
Joe Raedle
Getty Images

Rosario Claudio is an inmate at the minimum-security facility known as the Carol Vance Unit near Houston, Texas.

The state of Texas already made waves in September when it decided to stop honoring death row inmates' final meal requests. The decision was prompted by the huge meal requested by white supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer.

Today, The New York Times reports that since April, the Texas prison system has been skipping lunch on weekends. Now inmates in 36 prisons are eating two meals: one served between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. and another served between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

The Timesreports:

The meal reductions are part of an effort to trim $2.8 million in food-related expenses from the 2011 fiscal year budget of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the state prison agency. Other cuts the agency has made to its food service include replacing carton milk with powdered milk and using sliced bread instead of hamburger and hot dog buns.

Prison administrators said that the cuts were made in response to the state's multibillion-dollar budget shortfall in 2011, and that the weekend lunches were eliminated in consultation with the agency's health officials and dietitians. Michelle Lyons, an agency spokeswoman, said that inmates with health problems who have been prescribed a therapeutic diet continue to receive three meals per day.

To be fair to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, other states — Ohio, Arizona, Georgia — follow similar protocol. But the Times reports that the policy "appears to be out of step with the standards adopted by the American Correctional Association."

One state politician wasn't too worried. "If they don't like the menu, don't come there in the first place," State Sen. John Whitmire, a Democrat, told the Times.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.