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May 31, 2011

Nation's Prisons Face Soaring Demand For…Kosher Food

Menachem Lubinsky “In many prisons, those receiving kosher food do so as a group, which allows for prisoners to meet three times a day. In fact, in Washington State we had a whole group of Neo-Nazis claiming to be Jewish due to this auxiliary benefit.”

Lubinsky Kosher Today Prisons Demand Kosher Food Soars 1 5-31-11.
Lubinsky Kosher Today Prisons Demand Kosher Food Soars 2 5-31-11

BREAKING NEWS:
Nation's Prisons Face Soaring Demand for Kosher Food; Estimate at $40 Million
Seattle, WA — by T. Cohn, KT Features Editor...Can one celebrate freedom behind bars? Ask the hundreds of kosher consuming prisoners who partook in seders this past Passover holiday. Indeed, the Jewish prisoner population in the United States today numbers in the thousands, making for a plethora of penitently-style kosher meals to be manufactured, served, and consumed, according to Chaplain Gary Friedman, a long time prison chaplain in the Washington State Department of Corrections and executive director of Jewish Prisoner Services International. “One of the key problems, with regards to Jewish religious observance and kosher food in America’s prisons today, is the sheer volume of prisoners claiming to be Jewish,” said Chaplain Friedman. He continued: “I would roughly estimate the additional cost for kosher food at forty million dollars a year for the nation's prisons. While less than 1.5% of America’s prisoners are Jewish, many more claim Judaism as their religion, leading to a possibly untenable situation where kosher food must be provided for thousands of prisoners who are not members of the Jewish faith.” Chaplain Friedman concluded that, “If only those prisoners who were actually Jewish claimed Judaism as their religion and requested kosher food, there would be no problem with any particular prisoner receiving kosher meals. The problems, such as the recent Court challenge in Indiana, are due to the prisoners who, despite not being Jewish, claim to be Jewish and request kosher food. The negative impact of this phenomenon, namely the increase in food costs and associated administrative hassles is absorbed by the state at the expense of the Jewish religious population that actually requires kosher food.” Why would a non-Jewish prisoner want to eat kosher? “For some it’s a paranoia issue; they think that people are tampering with their food, while others believe that kosher food is healthier or better tasting,” says Chaplain Friedman. He added that “in many prisons, those receiving kosher food do so as a group, which allows for prisoners to meet three times a day. In fact, in Washington State we had a whole group of Neo-Nazis claiming to be Jewish due to this auxiliary benefit.” From the food manufacturer’s perspective, providing kosher food to prisons can translate into big business. Since the overwhelming majority of prisons do not have hot kosher kitchens, many kosher diets consist of shelf stable foods. Indeed, Alle Processing’s shelf stable “Amazing Meals” can be found in prisons across the country.

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only hareidim ask for kosher food in prison?

another reason why kosher food should not be provided in prison. when you commit a crime you lose the rights to many of your basic freedoms. you are no longer free to walk the streets, to drive, to assemble in public, and neither should the govt. be responsible in any way to provide for your religious desires. that right is for law-abiding citizens who must do so on their own dime.

WSoon they will have to serve zwible kugel on Friday nights & kasi Chulent Shabboss dayto new guests of a Jewish cult about to arrive.

Oyyyyyyyyyyy..................

another reason why kosher food should not be provided in prison. when you commit a crime you lose the rights to many of your basic freedoms. you are no longer free to walk the streets, to drive, to assemble in public, and neither should the govt. be responsible in any way to provide for your religious desires. that right is for law-abiding citizens who must do so on their own dime.

Posted by: ah-pee-chorus | May 31, 2011 at 12:23 PM

as odd as this my sound or sad. telling people no kosher food in prison could have an amazing deterrent effect on herideim and the ultra orthodox.

all fried-out jews (95% of the jewish prison population)become a little frumer and want kosher food which the law intitles them, lets see how the fried-out shamarya shmatha will spin this..

all fried-out jews (95% of the jewish prison population)become a little frumer and want kosher food which the law intitles them, lets see how the fried-out shamarya shmatha will spin this..

Posted by: moshe | May 31, 2011 at 01:22 PM

please provide a link to the study that states that 95% of Jewish prisoners are non religious.

it seems you know how to spin yourself

all fried-out jews (95% of the jewish prison population)become a little frumer and want kosher food which the law intitles them, lets see how the fried-out shamarya shmatha will spin this..

Posted by: moshe | May 31, 2011 at 01:22 PM

Ottisville is fullof haredi prisoners, from Sholom Rubashkin to the Spinka rebbe.

I wouldn't be too sure about how many Jewish prisoners are non-Orthodox.

ther reason why kosher food should not be provided in prison. when you commit a crime you lose the rights to many of your basic freedoms. you are no longer free to walk the streets, to drive, to assemble in public, and neither should the govt. be responsible in any way to provide for your religious desires. that right is for law-abiding citizens who must do so on their own dime.

Posted by: ah-pee-chorus | May 31, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Good thing the US Supreme Court disagreed with you.

If you want to keep kosher in prison, you can ask for only raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts. That will provide you will all nutrients.

There is no need for $pecial kosher meals to be brought in, at taxpayers' expense.

If you can't do the veggies, don't do the crime.

Oddly enough, there is a very simple solution. Virginia has a brand, spanking new medium security prison with accommodations for over 1,000 prisoners and nobody to fill them. Currently, it is costing that state $750,000 / year just to heat & cool (so pipes won't freeze, etc.) and stands empty. The 350 folks from an employment scarce community are not happy that there are not jobs.

Simply have the various jurisdictions pay per prisoner to the state of Virginia and make the whole prison kosher.

Well it seems like that the FBOP who i suppose is run by non-Jews and the courts have more sympathy in providing kosher food for Jewish inmates then the gang of a few self hating Jews.

Perhaps the feds could advertise in The Jewish Press, announce a bus trip to Virginia to launder money or smuggle drugs and you'll be paid a nice bonus.

A caravan of these buses could leave from the usual frumma neighborhoods. That empty prison could be filled in a day.

ah-pee-chorus , following your logic, they should ban chapels from prisons. Also, why do they need chaplains or religious leaders in prison?

If a person is ill, why should the prison provide them with their medical needs?

If you were in jail, why should the taxpayers be responsible to provide you with all types of food, wouldn’t you be able to survive on bread and water, or perhaps rice etc.. aren’t there many people in the world who live this way, why should we the taxpayers have to pay for better meals for you.

Recreation should also not be allowed. TV – forget about it. Books, magazines? Hel no! just work like a dog for the government! You did the crime, you will pay the price of slave labor with absolutely nothing more then what is absolutely necessary for basic survival..

++Deremes | May 31, 2011 at 01:54 PM++

They don't do it because of sympathy. There have been lawsuits which the BOP lost, or court rulings in favor of the criminals.

Just as frumma criminals should not wear kippot etc to avoid the chillul Hashem, they should not ask for kosher food - basic vegetarian is fine. They should do everything they can do to make themselves invisible.

It's amazing that they don't observe the Halacha that prohibits stealing, lying, cheating and burning people, but are so demanding of prison kashrut.

Levi, plenty of people in the USA do seriously agree with your sarcastic proposals.

The prison system has always been about giving the inmates just enough services and amenities to keep them from rioting, and providing whatever the courts insist the prison system provide.

Read what prison life was like in the USA many years ago.

Posted by: WoolSilkCotton | May 31, 2011 at 02:00 PM

True,but you would like it that the law to be changed so the frumma should get a lesson.


I'm not sure they can count on the help of soon to be ex-congressman Wiener.

David, people are not angles. Religious Jews are people.

No one is perfect. The Torah has 613 laws. There are many more Rabbinical laws. I don’t know what the term “religious Jew” means. In my understanding, the goal of a Jew is to attempt to follow and live by as many commandments as possible. The more the better. One should strive to improve himself from time to time and add more things.

For some people it is easier for them to fulfill the ritual mitzvoth. Shabbat, tefilin, kosher etc. (things that are between man and G-d), while other people find it easier to fulfill the mitzvoth that are inter-personal. Help another person, not steal, give charity etc..

Each person has his/her strong points and also shortcomings. Just because an individual has a serious (chronic) problem with honesty, this same person can be very meticulous in COUNTLESS other commandments. Is he a terrible person? Well, he is no Tzadik, but he may be trying very hard to overall serve the creator.

How about someone that is very honest, but finds it difficult to observe Shabbat, keep kosher etc. is he a bad Jew? Well, he is no Tzadik, but if he is always trying to better himself and include more mitzvoth in his life – from time to time, he is a great Jew.

In short, just because someone was not honest to a bank, evaded taxes etc. – yes these are crimes, and they come along with punishments – this doesn’t make it into the worst Rosho. He may be a VERY good person, who possesses these specific weaknesses. The same is with someone who does not keep kosher or shabbat, is he a bad Jew? NO! he may be trying very hard to fulfill Hashems commandments and these particular mitzvoth are his hardest ones to overcome.

Hopefully, with time, he will also start doing them, but in the meantime he is still a BEUTYFULL JEW.

Itchie, a few weeks ago, Weiner would have been calling the Skverer Rebbe to intercede on Weiner's behalf using the rebbe's connections!

: levi -

ah-pee-chorus , following your logic, they should ban chapels from ...

chapels and chaplains should not be provided unless studies have been done showing that non-denominational chapels and chaplains result in increased safety to the corrections staff, or a lower rate of recidivism. but under no circumstances should a prison be paying the salary of a priest, imam or rabbi.
If a person is ill, why should the prison provide ...

a prison must provide for a prisoners physical health lest they be in violation of the ban on cruel and unusual...

feeding people just water and bread does not meet their nutritional needs long term. prisons generally provide for basic nutritional needs in the cheapest manner possible. as they should.

Recreation should also not be allowed. TV – forget about it. Books

many would consider that cruel. there is also nothing wrong with providing things which lower the likelihood of violence by providing diversions which are cost effective.

since the state should NEVER be in a position in which it has to analyze which beliefs are "legitimate" and which not, kosher food is a violation of the establishment clause. what is to prevent a group of inmates from claiming they are followers of the little-known religion of "steak-ianity" which calls for eating steak at least twice a day?

and most importantly, i am not saying kosher food should be banned from prisons. there are prison commissaries where inmates can buy all kinds of items not provided by the prison. ice cream, soda, chips etc... kosher food can be sold there to any inmate wishing to spend his own money. the point is that its ridiculous to expect taxpayers to spend additional funds so that a convict can enjoy his kosher food.


Just another regular day.

Morrocan Rabbi in Netanya arrested for rape of prepubescent children.

http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4076641,00.html

ah-pee-chorus,

a prison must provide for a prisoners physical health lest they be in violation of the ban on cruel and unusual...

feeding people just water and bread does not meet their nutritional needs long term. prisons generally provide for basic nutritional needs in the cheapest manner possible. as they should.

I think I understand why we are arguing. In your reality, there is only one sent of essential needs that a person has: health (medical treatment), food etc. so the governments has the obligation to provide only these basic needs/rights.

To many others – actual the majority of Americans – a person is made up of a body and soul. just like the body has essential needs, and if you deprive a person of them, you are cruel and unusual, so to there are needs of the soul - spiritual needs – and if you deprive one of these basic needs it “cruel and unusual”.

Yea yea and now they will really need alot of kosher food for the new square rebbi when he goes to otisville

The problem isn't the Jewish inmates. The problem is the large number of inmates who declare themselves to be Jewish when they come into the prison system , even though they're not. They want the kosher meals, as bad as they are, because they don't want food that's prepared by other inmates- like in the mess halls. Also, the kosher meals provide some fresh vegetables and fruit, two items very rarely seen in prison mess halls.

levi-
what you call a soul cannot be shown to exist outside of the minds of people who claim it exists. i can also claim to have a body, a soul, and an army of miniature invisible pink unicorns which reside within me and require champagne and eggs for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and filet mignon and aged wine for dinner.
to expect taxpayers to have to take someones word that they possess a soul and that this soul has special dietary needs is irrational.
and the fact that the majority believes in something doesnt make it true, or worthy of providing to people that have trampled over other peoples rights in order to get where they are...PRISON.
that which is invisible and is not measurable is indistinguishable from that which does not exist.

Levi, a prisoner can sit in his cell and tend to his own spiritual needs, without incurring taxpayer expense. You can ask your rabbi to visit you on visitation day. There can be an all-purpose chapel with holy books available for all the religions. Again, only a small cost up front, or the books can be donated by religious organizations.
And as was mentioned above, a diet of raw vegetables, fruits, and nuts provides all your nutrients. In fact, better than the Lubavitcher yeshiva did.
You can buy extra goodies at the commisary with the money you earn doing chores in the prison.
Oh yeah, right, I almost forgot, the frumma men don't work, so they have no useful skills with which to make any money while in prison.

Will the Skverer Rebbe get a prison uniform with a mink collar, like his jacket has?

This is exactly what I am saying. We look at people very differently.

You see a person, no better then a higher functioning dog or monkey. I see a person as someone who has the potential to connect with the infinite – G-d.

The fact remains, that the vast majority of tax payers in America are religious people.

The fact remains, that the US law! Accepts that just like a prisoner’s physical needs must be met so too must his spiritual/religious needs must be met in prison.

(a side note: the supreme court just ruled that If a prison is not equipped to meet peoples basic needs, they should be released. In California there is severe overcrowding, and the basic needs of prisoners are not properly met… (Obviously this is a general statement and there are many fine details involved)

maybe the prisons should pay for a sofer to come and install a mezuzah on the bars. and they should pay for him to check the t'fillin too. and if there arent ten frum jews there the taxpayers should pay other jews from the area to come to the prison 3 times a day so the heilige convict can have a minyan. and i sure hope they pay to build a succah for frum inmates. they must have their "souls" fed.

"Will the Skverer Rebbe get a prison uniform with a mink collar, like his jacket has?

Posted by: WoolSilkCotton | May 31, 2011 at 03:22 PM "

Don't lick your chops,aint gonna happen.

The fact remains, that the US law! Accepts that just like a prisoner’s physical needs must be met so too must his spiritual/religious needs must be met in prison.Posted by: levi

there are many limitations as far as that goes, the courts are wrong on this issue, and we arent discussing what the law is. we are all aware that currently prisons DO provide kosher food. we are debating whether or not they SHOULD.

better not give them empire chicken drumsticks-the prisoners can probably make them into knives.

maybe the prisons should pay for a sofer to come and install a mezuzah on the bars.

Do frumma prisoners, in fact, have (or demand) mezzuzot on their cell doors/bars? Does anyone know?

in my 25 yrs in the frum world, i have never heard the term frumma-where does that come from, wsc?

why ex-congressman wiener? is anyone stupid enough to believe breitbart hoaxes?

The argument against providing kosher meals to prisoners is that it is more expensive than non kosher food so that some of the prison budget goes to pay for some kid to stare at lettuce leaves and into some rabbi's Swiss bank account. This clearly is against the separation of State and Church.

What can be allowed is for the prison chaplain to be allowed to choose kosher foods at the same cost per prisoner as for non kosher food.

Levi, I am sure you were equally concerned about the spiritual needs of Lemrick Nelson when he was in prison.

Deremes, as I said earlier on other threads, I agree with you that the Skverer Mafia Rebbe will not go to jail. Checks will be written to Mr. Rottenberg and his lawyer to make everything go away.

You guys are arguing about a non-issue. One more time: Most of the expense is from NON-Jewish inmates.

2c2d, I was raised in a yiddish-only home. Frumma is plural for frum, as per the language I was raised on. (I didn't really learn English until I started public school.)

It has been debated here on FM as to whether it should be 'frumme' instead; my parents' pronunciation can be questioned.

My parents referred to religious Jews who were sleazebags as 'frumma yidden'. Decent menschliche religious Jews were referred to as 'erliche yidden'.

Jay, that's true, but it opens up the question as to when can the prison officials say 'no' to a kosher food request? Do they need proof of someone being Jewish or not? Do they need proof that you're religious if you are Jewish? Who decides which requests are legitimate? What if a hasidic Jew doesn't consider the kosher meal as 'kosher enough' for his uber-strict personal standards?

I don't think it is legal to perform a religious test to "prove" someone's claimed Jewishness. In any case if the Charedim can't agree on who is Jewish, certainly the Govt can't. There is therefore nothing to prevent all prisoners claiming to be Jewish to get the supposedly superior kosher meals. That's why I think the government should offer only basic prison meals comprosing of:

a) Standard meals with cheap meat cuts.
b) Vegetarian "multifaith" meals that would be suitable for Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhist and Jainists and anyone else that wants to be vegetarian.

Naturally, both meal options should be nutritionally balanced and under the supervision of a dietician.

Details to be worked out would be who would religiously supervise the vegetarian option - if frumma got involved it would be become unworkable or very expensive - but probably still cheaper than kosher.

@WSC, I asked three individuals who are New York State prison chaplains. One is Orthodox, two are Conservative. They said that all ANY inmate has to do is declare themselves as Jewish when they're first received at the prison. It's unconstitutional, apparently, to demand proof.

After carefully reading these opinions, I am glad they are just that, opinions. And obviously most of the users, except Levi I would say, do not have a clue of what the real purpose of prison is. Besides serving a deterrent and punishment function, prisons are also meant to be a place to REFORM the inmates.Yes, some people do leave the joint REFORMED, It is not all a lost cause you num nuts. Reason why you have shops, library, social services and RELIGIOUS services, is to fulfill it's commitment to REFORM inmates.

For what I perceive here, most of the users who so much criticize frummies and Hassids for choosing to live lifestyles commensurate with the 16th , 17 and 18 century Europe, their views on the prison system certainly is medieval.

If the neo-nazis are requesting it then they are doing so to try and stuff up the Jews and interpret the Church and State crap in their own way.

The prison system need not serve any meat at all. That would be the best solution; healthier and cheaper. Who knows? Vegetarian diets purportedly reduce agro and that would be an advantage.

R' Maven - Breitbart is legitimite. Aside from the fact that the black farmer scam is just that, Breitbart was wrongly criticized, even by Glen Beck. Look it up.
Breitbart was made to be the scapegoat. Heck, the White House irresponsibly fired her without even investigating.
As far as Weiner, he is just that.

Does anyone have real experience with prison food?
Is the kosher food in prison really superior to the daily menu?
Just curious if anyone really knows.

SOD -
State of NY spends $2.95 (or is it $2.65?) per day per prisoner for meals.
Total, for 3 meals.

It's par-cooked in a central facilty, frozen, then shipped to all the state prisons.
I heard our county jail does it for less than a dollar a day.

Kosher HAS to be better.

@WSC, I asked three individuals who are New York State prison chaplains. One is Orthodox, two are Conservative. They said that all ANY inmate has to do is declare themselves as Jewish when they're first received at the prison. It's unconstitutional, apparently, to demand proof.

If only it was so simple in Eretz Yisrael, there wouldn't be a conversion crisis.

Are you guys clear thinking people? Say a person – who was all around a decent and good person - was desperate, had huge family and business pressures and troubles, and this caused him to engage in some illegal activity for a short while.

Do you suppose that due to this infraction, the crime he committed removes him from the category of a human being and transforms him into a slave and animal?

Are you insane? There are plenty of overall decent people in prison. Yes, they have committed crimes, some more than others, but they are still human beings. They are not mass murderers or serial rapists!

They are HUMAN BEINGS who – LIKE US ALL – are not perfect and screwed up in some matters. Does this take away the entire GOOD life that they lead? Do they become the equivalent of terrorists and mass murderers who should be treated like trash – without any human dignity and compassion?

Should we wish them the worst (as most regulars on this blog routinely with the very worst on every (frum) alleged criminal…

This is a very sad reflection on how some of you look at you fellow human beings. I sure hope that you guys don’t end up in jail one day…

David, people are not angles. Religious Jews are people.

No one is perfect. The Torah has 613 laws. There are many more Rabbinical laws. I don’t know what the term “religious Jew” means. In my understanding, the goal of a Jew is to attempt to follow and live by as many commandments as possible. The more the better. One should strive to improve himself from time to time and add more things.

For some people it is easier for them to fulfill the ritual mitzvoth. Shabbat, tefilin, kosher etc. (things that are between man and G-d), while other people find it easier to fulfill the mitzvoth that are inter-personal. Help another person, not steal, give charity etc..

I have heard this all before. The problem is that the frumma nearly always fail in the man-centred mitzvot (honesty etc.) but keep the G-d centred mitzvot such as kashrut. The non-frumma Jews are much more meticulous in the man-centred mitzvot such as honesty but less meticulous in mitzvot such as Shabbos and kashrut.

Levi, do you believe that a lower rate of income tax should apply to Jews who chose to eat kosher or miss out on earning overtime at double rates on Saturdays to compensate them for the financial costs they incur because of their beliefs?

If not, then why should the prison authorities pay extra for those who choose to eat kosher?

This has nothing to do with reforming prisoners but rather with enriching kashrus authorities at public expense rather than at the prisoner's expense.

Putting it in perspective,at the end of 2009 we had 2,292,133 people imprisoned in the United States. $40 million is not much money when you consider the total number of people in jail.

In Texas after dining on your kosher lunch, then it is back to cleaning out the cow barn

Levi said:
" ..Say a person – who was all around a decent and good person - was desperate, had huge family and business pressures and troubles, and this caused him to engage in some illegal activity for a short while."

Your assumption here that illegal activity is for a short while is amazing.
When someone breaks the law and gets a way with it, there is a tendency to break the law again, and again and again. After all, they weren't caught. SMR's crimes started more than 10 years earlier.

Your assumption that they are decent people - just a little crooked is also in error. Mussolini was kind to his family and mistress. Qaddafi has a huge family and is kind to all of them. Kindness in one area of your life does not excuse lying, cheating and stealing no matter how much tzedakah one gives.

state of disgust,

I’m not suggesting that if someone is kind to his family, that covers up on any wrongdoing.

All I’m saying is that you have many people who the 95% of their life is picture perfect – as far as decency is considered. They are a great asset to their family, friends and larger community.

This same person can sometimes do something wrong. And I will not justify the wrong deed. But this single (or several) wrong deed do not cancel out all the good he has done.

I would agree with you if we are talking about a murderer or terrorist. But a person who committed a relatively small crime, or for many smaller white crimes, this does transform the person into an animal!

Yes, I believe that our prison and punishment system in this beautiful country is very far from perfect or even good. Locking up a person who has the potential to be very productive – unless he is a physical threat to those around him – is tantamount to executing him. The Talmud relates that is some aspects, being a prisoner is worse than being killed!

Yes, there are people who must be locked up to protect others. But there is a very large segment of prisoners in this county who are not a threat to anyone. And yes, there should and must be consequences to crime, but consequences that help FIX what was done. Be made to pay back – using his talents and skills for the benefit of the community. Not locking him up in a cell like an animal where he is unable to contribute to the wellbeing of others.

A little off topic,

A while back I read a news article about Madof. It stated that Madof offered the prison where he is being held to help them with their finances (I don’t remember the details, I believe it was in connection with the landscaping of the prison ground).

Yet, they refused to let him use his brain to help the government! They insisted that he work in the kitchen cleaning something…

This man has more business and money making skill than most others. Why wouldn’t the government USE HIS SKILLS for the benefit of the community or government. Why not let a person use his brain and be productive.

Quite a number of times the FBI nabbed computer hackers who hacked into the most sensitive government files – which can be charged with the worst crimes – and the government EMPLOYES these same people to help them.

They said that all ANY inmate has to do is declare themselves as Jewish when they're first received at the prison. It's unconstitutional, apparently, to demand proof.

Posted by: Jay | May 31, 2011 at 06:42 PM

probably a pretty dangerous thing to do-between the moslems and nazis, its probably pretty hard to keep your esophagus in one place if youre jewish in prison.

Times change. The Aryan Nation is now reported to accept new members who have one Jewish parent. All they have to do is peform the mandatory beatings, killings and drug dealing that other AN members commit. :-(

why ex-congressman wiener? is anyone stupid enough to believe breitbart hoaxes?

Posted by: maven

ex congressman?-uhh, i think he is still a congressman-and if you saw him dancing yesterday when the reporters from CNN (yes, that conservative out to hang liberals bastion, CNN) asked him about it-to the point that he called one reporter a jackass-and you still think he didnt do it, you are so blinded by your bias towards liberals that you can no longer think objectively-I think that Breitbart has done some terrible things, but if Weiner was a conservative, then Scotty, and all of the media would have made this the story of the week-but, alas, he is a lib, so Scotty avoids it, and the media will soon bury it-I despise the lack of objectivity in the media, and those that dont will have on one but themselves to blame when these bastards turn on them.

Since the overwhelming majority of prisons do not have hot kosher kitchens, many kosher diets consist of shelf stable foods. Indeed, Alle Processing’s shelf stable “Amazing Meals” can be found in prisons across the country.

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