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Inmates harvest own food, save county hundreds

CADDIE NATH
SUMMIT DAILY

Summit County Jail inmates took a short field trip Oct. 16 and came back with some fresh food and big savings for the detention facility.

It is the second year Summit County inmates have participated in “Operation Produce,” an excursion to Miller Farms in Platteville to harvest vegetables to be used for inmate meals.

“I thought it was great,” said inmate Mike Muncy, who participated in Operation Produce this year. “It was definitely a unique experience, not only for me but for all the other inmates and staff.”

Muncy is serving a 128-day sentence at the Summit County Detention Facility for a DWAI.

Two deputies and five inmates made the trek down to Platteville after breakfast, where they spent four hours gathering an estimated 400 pounds of produce. After the $10 per person participation charge, the haul will save the sheriff’s office approximately $500 on food.

“It gets them out. It gets them doing positive things,” said Tracy LeClair, Summit County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman. “Instead of just sitting there all day, they’re helping pay for themselves a little bit.”

Meals for inmates run the county $2.44 each on average. The county spends $138,000 annually on prisoner meals.

The produce – including fresh corn, pumpkins, beets, acorn squash, green beans, carrots and potatoes – will provide healthy ingredients for upcoming inmate meals.

Operation Produce is prearranged with Miller Farms. For security, only low-risk prisoners – known as “trustees” – are allowed to participate in the harvest, and punishments are in place should a prisoner try to take advantage of the time away.

The program has been successful enough over the last two years that the sheriff’s office is now considering doing another inmate harvest to collect food to donate to a local food bank.

“We just need to figure out who we can work with and whether they can take fresh produce,” LeClair said.

SDN reporter Caddie Nath can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or at cnath@summitdaily.com.


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