What's on the menu for prisoners this Christmas?

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 24 Dec 2021, 2:32PM
Roast chicken and veges are on the menu again for prisoners this year. (File photo / Department of Corrections)
Roast chicken and veges are on the menu again for prisoners this year. (File photo / Department of Corrections)

What's on the menu for prisoners this Christmas?

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 24 Dec 2021, 2:32PM

Many of us blow the budget when it comes to Christmas feasts, with gourmet appetisers and lavish spreads of expensive ham, salmon, lamb or turkey, various vegetables, salads and fancy bottles of bubbly, rounding off with multiple dessert options. 

But the Department of Corrections will be spending just $1.10 extra per prisoner on December 25 - the cost of two celebratory fruit mince tarts. 

Christmas Day in prison will be much like any other day, with a "basic, nutritious meal" and possibly some extra sports and other activities. 

More than 7500 prisoners around New Zealand will be tucking into hot roast meals at a total cost of $7.63 per prisoner, Corrections said in a statement. 

That's the normal daily menu cost of $6.53, plus $1.10 for the tarts. 

"A basic, nutritious meal will be served on Christmas Day, with roast chicken and vegetables for lunch, and chicken with rice and salad for dinner, along with two fruit mince tarts to acknowledge the day," chief custodial officer Neil Beales said. 

Vegetarians can have crumbed spinach and pumpkin patties for lunch, with falafel, rice and salad for dinner. 

"Our Christmas lunch is the same at all 17 prisons we manage nationwide and is similar to what has been provided on Christmas Day for many years." 

The meals would be made by prisoners as part of an industry training scheme which prepares them for work when they get out of jail. 

Beales said Christmas could be a really difficult time, particularly for the families of men and women in prison. 

"Throughout December our sites provided whānau activities where children are able to read books, make gifts and play games with their mum or dad to celebrate the season." 

Auckland prisons hadn't been able to host face-to-face visits due to Covid restrictions, but prisoners had been given extra phone cards to keep in contact with loved ones. 

Corrections staff and people in prison had also been giving back to the community. Men at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison had sewn 104 Christmas decorations, table runners and 30 advent calendars - which were filled with treats donated by prison staff and given to local charities. 

Men at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison have sewed advent calendars and Christmas decorations to give to charity this year. Photo / Supplied

Men at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison have sewed advent calendars and Christmas decorations to give to charity this year. Photo / Supplied 

Fresh seasonal produce like leeks, lettuce, strawberries and potatoes grown by prisoners had been donated to foodbanks and charities, and Corrections staff had also been collecting gifts for the children of prisoners and local charities. 

"Christmas gives people in prison the opportunity to give back, which we know provides a sense of purpose and pride and helps people to feel connected to their community. This can be an important step towards a person making positive change in their lives," Beales said. 

Beales also acknowledged Corrections staff, many of whom would be working through the holiday. 

Boxes of goodies donated by Corrections' national office to the Wellington City Mission. Photo / Supplied

Boxes of goodies donated by Corrections' national office to the Wellington City Mission. Photo / Supplied