Initiative to provide healthier food options for prison inmates
MARYLAND – Maryland House bill 1071 would require prisons and hospitals to give inmates the option of receiving plant-based meals to reduce and fight chronic and infectious diseases like heart disease and COVID-19. “So no one should be in prison and have a death penalty because of the food that they eat,” says Jo Saint-George, HBCU Chair of the College of Plant-Based, the organization leading this initiative.
According to advocates for this bill, through research they found that tax payers are paying more for inmates to have hospitals stays, instead of investing in preventative care such as healthier diets. “We’re spending too much and that money needs to go somewhere else to do thing to keep people out of prison,” says Saint-George.
Saint-George also says, this initiative to help get this bill passed is so inmates receive better nutritional treatment. She states this bill would also providing training and educational resources for inmates as well as health care workers in hospitals and the prison system. “So that then they can learn how to prescribe food as medicine to reduce the costs associated with treating chronic degenerative diseases as well as infectious diseases.”
Saint-George’s experience with her own family member who is in the prison system prompted her to start this initiative. Prisoners allegedly don’t have a choice in food they eat or a healthy. “It’s a food justice that’s giving them freedom to choose to want to eat for life and to be able to serve their full term,” says Saint-George.
Although the bill has yet to be voted on, advocates tell 47 ABC they’re excited to have this bill heard in the house so others will see the benefits to not only prisoners, but tax payers. They say a healthy diet could contribute to an overall healthier lifestyle for inmates. “You are what you eat lets put it that way you’re eating Twinkies, you’re going to have a Twinkie mind,” says Saint-George. “So we’re saying this is an option and a choice for them, for them to choose heath.”
Saint-George, who is leading this plant-based movement also says the focus in prisons should be on correcting the person, while still treating them like a person.
She says that starts with giving them healthier options to serve their full term, and hopefully be reformed.
The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services tells 47 ABC, in response to the cross-filed bill Senate Bill 322 they stated “There would be a significant fiscal impact associated with implementing this initiative” The HBCU College of Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine will hold a Lobby Night on March 8th at 7 p.m., the night before the hearing of the bill.