The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

November 21, 2007

TDCJ inmates to enjoy Thanksgiving feast

Today, inmates at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville will gather in the mess hall for another meal time.

But this day is different.

For the past four days, the massive barbecue pit in back of the food services division has been burning ‘round the clock, smoking hams and turkeys.

The trucks have been rolling in, too, bringing a multitude of produce from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s very own farms.

And this morning, the inmates who work in the kitchen at the unit will be working especially hard.

While prison food might not sound all too appetizing to the uninitiated, Stevenson said it’s some of the best.

“I’ve never eaten like this anywhere else,” said Sgt. Robert Stevenson, part of the food service’s department on the unit. “It’s unbelievable how good these guys can cook.”

The menu consists of turkey, ham, fresh fruit and produce and dressing, much of which is produced inside the system, said Jason Clark, a spokesperson for the department.

Stevenson said that much of the fresh produce and poultry comes from other TDCJ units, grown by inmates.

“All our eggs come from TDCJ, most of our chicken, and all of our potatoes,” Stevenson said. “We try to get fresh produce all the time.”

Michelle Lyons, a spokesperson for the department, said the fare is the typical Thanksgiving feast.

“The food that is served is the same as what you might find on the tables of many other American families: turkey and dressing, rolls, fresh vegetables and desserts,” Lyons said. “Many inmates say it's the best meal of the year, and they look forward to it.”

And with most of the kitchen staff having years of practice, Stevenson said it rivals even “grandmother home cooking.”

“We have recipes we go by, but there are a few of the guys who have been here cooking for quite a while,” Stevenson said. “(One of the) offenders who does our turkey dressing ... doesn’t even need a recipe. He does it every year.”

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