TRUMBULL COUNTY Juvenile-jail food plan to save some dough

It is a win-win situation, a jail official says.
WARREN -- The cost of feeding detainees at the Trumbull County Juvenile Detention Center should drop by nearly 50 percent under a plan to prepare the teenagers' meals at the Trumbull County Jail.
"Between the two of us, we should save a lot of money for the county next year," said Judge Pamela A. Rintala, who is in charge of the 60-resident juvenile jail.
Under a plan introduced to county commissioners Wednesday, food cooked at the county jail will be delivered to the juvenile facility in heated carts, which will cost about $1,000.
Rintala said the sheriff's department may already have a van to deliver food to the juvenile facility, about five blocks away. The jail will have to get a catering permit before the plan is put into effect, she said.
The Juvenile Justice Center has a stove for heating food but lacks a complete kitchen, she said. Now, the facility buys frozen dinners for many meals, at about $1.50 a meal.
The cost should drop to 80 cents a meal when the jail starts preparing the food, Rintala said.
Yearly expenses
The Juvenile Justice Center had been spending about $90,000 a year to feed detainees. Officials estimate the bill could drop by two-thirds once the switch is made, although that does not include some additional costs that will be absorbed by the jail.
Earlier this year, the juvenile justice center also began participating in the federal school lunch program. The center had to start serving a hot breakfast, and in return has been reaping $5,000 to $6,000 a month through that program, Rintala said.
Ernie Cook, chief financial officer, and Crystal Lapinski, head of the jail's kitchen staff, said they believe having the jail kitchen prepare the meals is a good idea.
"It's a win-win situation," Cook said. "I think it's good we all work together. This will help benefit everyone and it will save money."
Lapinski said the extra meals won't cause her staff any difficulties.
"Hey, we are already cooking for around 350 people, so what is 60 more?" Lapinski said. "We are a team of six here and we should be able to handle it without a problem."
She noted that she has been conferring with an employee of the juvenile detention center's kitchen so the transition will be smooth.
"We will be conferring on meals and what foods need to be served so that everything will be handled properly," Lapinski said.

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