When jail administrators provide officers with healthy food options, they are contributing to their officers' physical and mental health, while boosting morale and safety within the facility.

Correctional officers work long days, and there are days when they're tasked with a double. Working long shifts four days in a row, leaves little time to grocery shop to prepare filling and nutritious snacks and meals. Therefore, they are stuck eating what is available to them at work. If chips, chocolate bars and sugary drinks are the only options available, then this is the food they will consume. Enhancing the work environment with healthier options benefits correctional officers, but it also improves institutional safety and job performance. During long shifts, correctional officer's must have access to food that keeps them mentally sharp and energized to handle any situation or problem that comes their way.

healthy food
vending machine

A study shows that one of the most stress-inducing factors for correctional officers is not receiving adequate support from their administration [1]. An excellent way for jail administrators to show their support for their officers is to add vending machines or a lunch program with healthy options to their facility. This addition won't only improve an officer's physical health but also shows a concern for their wellbeing. Providing better options helps curate a healthier staff, both mentally and physically, while showing staff that the administration has their best interest in mind. 

Correctional officers are the MVPs in a facility. Especially in this post-pandemic world where retention has been challenging, jail administrators need to recognize how this investment can retain good staff and turn a demanding work environment into a better situation for all. This investment in providing healthy food for officers will have long term effects on the facilities bottom line as healthier and happier officer's will mean fewer sick days, less turnover, and cost savings associated with healthcare. 

So jail administrators and decision makers, by developing a wellness committee and finding out what your officers need to excel on the job, you are not only making their jobs easier but yours as well.


Next: The Importance of Cardio Equipment in Prison


References:
Obidoa C, Reeves D, Warren N, Reisine S, Cherniack M.  (2011). Depression and work family conflict among corrections officers. Journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine, 53:1294–1301.