CDCR's regulations about inmate diets start off with a commitment to provide inmates with --
a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet, served in an orderly manner with food flavor, texture, temperature, appearance and palatability taken into consideration. Current Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA), and Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) as established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Science shall be considered authoritative in setting levels of nutritional need. Sanitation, safety, and food handling standards and practices shall be established and maintained in keeping with applicable requirements established by the Industrial Safety Standards (California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 8) and the California Health and Safety Code (H&SC).
The standard menu for all institutions is a "heart healthy" low-salt, low-fat diet. All prison meals, save those served in camps, are pork free, and the regulations make allowances for vegetarian, Jewish, and recently added Muslim ("meat alternate") meals.
This week, Emily Deans over at Evolutionary Psychiatry has posted links to several studies, conducted with double-blinds and control groups, which suggest that nutrition may play an important role in inmate violence reduction. Her first post cites two such studies, and her second post speaks of Gesch's work in this field and his assessment that recommendations for vitamin supplements would not be heeded due to political reasons. I assume providing inmates with medication might be portrayed as "coddling" them and make for bad press, but maybe it should be considered as a public safety measure, considering its reductive effects on violence?
I've been trying to look at the Receivership's organizational tree to figure out if anyone at the prison medical services did work concerned with preventative medicine, including dietary recommendations. Dear readers - if you can provide us with sample daily/weekly menus at CA institutions, or with stories on what friends or family members purchase at the canteen to supplement their meals, we'll all know a bit more about prison nutrition.
props to Yossi Kikayon for bringing this to my attention.